Scott Sillars, a candidate running in the Democratic primary for the Borough Council of the united Princeton, expressed disappointment today about the local municipal committee endorsement process and said he is focused on winning the June primary.
“I was honored at the PCDO endorsement meeting last Sunday where I finished in the top six for six council seats in my first ever campaign,” he said. “Unfortunately, the first Democratic vote of the new Princeton was under immediate assault by the dying gasps of old, discredited ways when the Democratic municipal committee saw fit to promote the seventh-place finisher above me on the ballot. One hundred and fifty-eight PCDO voters chose me for council, a broad and deep endorsement that was overturned by four votes of the obscure and little-understood Democratic committee.”
Local Democratic leaders say no endorsement decision by the local Democratic club was overturned by the municipal committees, which are comprised of one man and one woman elected from each voting district. The PCDO and the municipal committees are separate organizations, leaders say, and the action of the municipal committees doesn’t have any effect on the PCDO endorsements.
At the Princeton Community Democratic Organization endorsement meeting Sunday night, four council candidates received the full endorsement of the local club by earning more than 60 percent of the ballots cast. A full endorsement means the PCDO recommends that the candidates be in the main Democratic column with the party slogan next to their names.
Four other candidates received a partial endorsement by winning more than 40 percent of the ballots cast. Jenny Crumiller had 175 votes, Sillars had 158 votes, Jo Butler had 151 votes and Tamera Matteo received 150 votes.
A partial endorsement means the PCDO recommends that candidates appear in the same column as the fully endorsed candidates, but without the party slogan next to their names. Two other candidates received too few votes for a recommendation of a full or partial endorsement, meaning the PCDO recommends their names be listed in a separate column on the ballot.
On Monday night, the Princeton Township and Princeton Borough municipal committees adopted rules for the endorsement process, reviewed the PCDO results and heard each candidate speak. Some people have criticized the municipal committees for waiting until after the PCDO meeting to adopt the endorsement rules, arguing the results of the endorsement meeting could have influenced their choices.
Borough Municipal Chairman Peter Wolanin said the municipal committees had planned well in advance to fully endorse a slate of six candidates.
“We had also seriously considered excluding all but six from the column, Wolanin said. “In the end the results mirror closely the PCDO recommendation, except we fully endorsed two more. That was the only change in terms of the outcomes compared to the PCDO recommendations regarding the 12 candidates. No one was added to or removed form the column, both of which were possible.”
A total of 34 committee members were present at the municipal committee meeting Monday night, 15 Borough and 19 Township. The meeting was conducted jointly by the two chairs for the Borough and Township. The Mercer County Democratic Chair makes the final decision about name placement on the ballot.
In an e-mail to PCDO members Wednesday night, PCDO President Dan Preston told members that the municipal committee endorsements in no way change the PCDO endorsements.
“The vote by the membership on Sunday night is the organization’s final word on the subject,” Preston wrote. “One candidate for mayor and four council candidates can claim that they are `endorsed by the PCDO’ – and that they were also separately endorsed by the municipal committees. Four Council candidates can cite the fact that they earned between 40 and 60 percent of the PCDO vote, and two from that group can indicate that they also received the municipal committees’ endorsement.”
Preston said the PCDO is committed and bound to a level playing field for all the candidates, endorsed or not, between now and the Democratic primary. The organization cannot expend funds in support of any particular candidate, Preston said, and all candidates who sought the PCDO endorsement are entitled to have a single campaign message forwarded to the PCDO email list between now and the June primary.
Sillars said despite the partial endorsement, he is excited about continuing his candidacy for Princeton Council in the June primary.
“I am focused on winning in the primary,” he said. “The fact that I will be on the ballot as a Democratic nominee for Princeton Council has not changed – that’s all I need. I now look forward to telling you (voters) more about myself and asking for your support in June.”