Chad Goerner was named mayor of Princeton Township and Liz Lempert was chosen as deputy mayor at the township’s annual reorganization meeting Tuesday night, the final reorganization meeting of the township with consolidation on the horizon for 2013.
Incumbent committee members Bernie Miller and Sue Nemeth, who won re-election in November, were also sworn in.
Goerner was sworn in for his second year as mayor by former New Jersey Governor Jim Florio, whose campaign he worked on while he was in college. Goerner said Florio’s ability to stand by his principles and make difficult decisions even when they weren’t popular inspired him to become involved in politics.
In a speech that highlighted major events of 2011, Goerner also looked ahead, stressing that the most important goal of 2012 is to see that the transition to a merged Princeton is successful.
“We need to ensure a smooth transition through strong collaboration with Princeton Borough and our residents,” Goerner said. “We must ensure that we achieve the savings identified in the consolidation commission report, and find additional savings where possible. We know there will be challenges and obstacles, but to quote the spirit of the Moody Blues we will ‘keep as cool as we can and face piles of trials with smiles’.”
Goerner said he is proud of what the town was able to accomplish in 2011, with the approval of consolidation topping the list. He also cited the Township budget that included no tax increase for the first time in many years, the new pool complex project, the approval of Princeton University’s arts and transit zone, a transit agreement with Princeton University, and the voluntary payment in lieu of taxes from the University as successes for last year.
“It has been an honor to have had the opportunity to serve my community,” Goerner said. “When I first became active in politics I was guided by the hope of making a difference. We’ve certainly done that and I believe the future is very bright for the town that will simply be called Princeton.”
Princeton has proven its leadership and set an example with consolidation in a state that has been afraid to embrace consolidation, Goerner said.
“The League of Municipalities, which some may argue has a conflict of interest, has shied away from supporting it,” he said. “Many of the state’s 565 towns shun consolidation and only some look to shared services and many do so reluctantly as home rule continues to dominate their thinking.”
Goerner said the era of home rule must end.
“Consolidation is not a silver bullet solution for all of the state’s financial woes,” he said. “Instead it is a part of what needs to be a total, comprehensive set of solutions to help us manage our state more efficiently and effectively. We need our leaders in the Governors’ office, the Legislature and locally across the state to stand up and do what is right to encourage consolidation where it makes sense, shared services where it makes sense, and other structural reforms to reign in our out of control municipal madness.”