Letters: Residents Weigh In on Princeton Mayoral Candidates









Four Former Princeton Mayors, Consolidation Commission Chair and Transition Task Force Chair Endorse Wilkes for Mayor

To the Editor:

In Princeton, we are at a historic moment in the governance of our town. We have the opportunity to select the individual who will best lead our community toward a new, unified Princeton. We have the opportunity to choose a leader who will work tirelessly with the new Council and who has a vision and a plan to address the many challenges facing a community trying to consolidate so many critical community wide concerns.  Kevin Wilkes can face this challenge.  He can lead.

As a member of Borough Council, an architect and a builder, a community planner and activist, a business owner and a professional, an artist and organizer, a team leader and a team player, and as someone who has lived and worked in both the Borough and Township, Kevin Wilkes has demonstrated the skills, dedication, perseverance, and aptitude necessary for this new leadership position in Princeton.

We know how much is at stake here for our town – and that is why we will be voting for him Tuesday in the June 5th Democratic Primary on Column 8B.  Please join us.

Jim Floyd                                                                                Mark Freda
Former Mayor, Princeton Township                                        Former Borough Councilman

Anton Lahnston                                                                      Yina Moore
Chair, Traffic and Transportation Committee                         Mayor, Princeton Borough

Marvin Reed                                                                           Barbara Trelstad
Former Mayor, Princeton Borough                                         Council President, Princeton Borough

Mildred Trotman
Former Mayor, Princeton Borough

Lempert Has the Leadership Skills to Unite Princeton

Dear Editor:

November’s vote for consolidation was a monumental turning point in Princeton’s future.  But this was only the first step… it is now incumbent upon us to vote for the right leader to make this vision of consolidation, of a more efficient and effective government, a reality. The Princeton Community Democratic Organization (PCDO) and the local Princeton Democratic Party have done this with their overwhelming endorsement of Liz Lempert.  I’ve worked closely with Liz in my role as the chairman of the Environmental Commission, and I couldn’t agree more.

Liz brings the leadership needed for a United Princeton. She has spearheaded many initiatives that are critically important to  the existing Township and Borough: keeping municipal taxes flat, saving human services, and preserving our environment. Through collaborative decision making, Liz was able to help save 66 acres of land on the environmentally sensitive Princeton Ridge. As liaison to the Princeton Environmental Commission (PEC), Liz has been on top of sustainability since she first took office… working with the PEC to investigate options for a Parks Director, working on solutions for safer cycling, and most recently bringing people together to help keep a Green Building Checklist on the agenda of the local government.

Liz will ensure that consolidation results in the tax savings that we expect and the elimination of much of the red tape that frustrates each and every one of us.  She takes her constituents’ concerns to heart and will strive to preserve the character of our neighborhoods and the vitality of our downtown. The bottom line is that Liz is the right person at the right time.

Princeton will take the next step in the Consolidation journey Tuesday. Join me in voting for the best possible candidate to lead us, Liz Lempert.

Matt Wasserman

Wilkes Will Provide Strong Leadership for the United Princeton

To the Editor:

I am writing in support of Kevin Wilkes for mayor of the new consolidated Princeton.  Kevin has been my colleague on Borough Council for the past four years.  In that time I have learned  to respect his strength and courage of convictions.  These are rare characteristics in a politician. He is not afraid to speak his mind directly, but kindly.  Kevin is intelligent, creative, forward thinking and has the best interest of Princeton in his heart.  He is a leader. He has been a resident in or near our community for more than 30 years. He runs a local business and is familiar with the complexities of running a business in our town.

Shortly after joining Council, he assumed the position of police commissioner at a time when the Borough Police department was troubled.  He worked with our police chief to bring order and decorum to a department of which we can now be very proud.  He has served on the Borough Finance Committee and has found ways to keep the Borough budget even for four years running.  His efforts with the Traffic and Transportation Commission have built strong links to the State Department of Transportation which are crucial to the well-being of Princeton, as we confront more and more traffic coursing through our town each and every day. As a graduate of Princeton University he is familiar with its culture and inner workings. This has been helpful and will continue to be helpful as both the town and University grow and confront each other over diminishing resources.

If we elect Kevin Wilkes Mayor of the new Princeton we will be assured of the strong leadership that is necessary to guide our fledgling new town forward to a bright future.

Barbara Trelstad

Lempert Responsive to Citizens’ Concerns

To the Editor:

I write to urge my fellow Princetonians to support Liz Lempert for Mayor in the coming election.  As the President of Friends of Princeton Open Space, I have attended many Township Committee meetings during the time Liz has served on Committee, and have also worked with her on a number of important  land preservation projects and conservation issues.  I have consistently been impressed by Liz’s openness, thoughtfulness, quickness to grasp an issue, and ability to see things through.  She is responsive to citizen concerns, and concerned about our most vulnerable citizens.

Liz has been a leader in working to protect the eastern Princeton Ridge and create a Princeton Ridge Preserve.  This benefits our town in many ways – not just because we have more passive-recreation open space and preserved critical habitat, but because the protected lands provide “environmental services” such as flood protection, carbon sequestration, counteracting the urban heat effect and reducing the public costs of too-intense development.  Liz is knowledgeable about environmental issues, but she is not a one-issue person, and to my observation she contributes in all of the areas that Committee takes up.

My husband knows Liz through his work for the Friends of the Princeton Public Library, where Liz is an active volunteer and supporter.  Liz obviously appreciates the important connections between libraries and the welfare of children, and makes time in her very busy schedule to support this critical institution.

We are blessed in Princeton to have many capable and intelligent individuals who are willing to run for and serve in our government.  I believe that Liz is a standout even in this outstanding field.

Wendy Mager

Princeton Needs Wilkes’ Energy and Problem Solving Skills

To the Editor:

On June 5, Princeton has the opportunity to vote for the candidate representing the Democratic slot on the general election ticket. There are two worthy choices and while Liz Lempert would make a good mayor, Kevin Wilkes will make a great one. I’ll tell you why.

Kevin has the skills to preside over consolidation. As an architect, he’s used to managing a design and construction team for demo, design, and reconstruction. Those skills have translated to his record as a Borough Councilman. But beyond execution, Kevin will know how to plan for it, or, to stick with the construction theme: he knows how to stage it.

This transition won’t be seamless and it could be turbulent. Princeton will need a thick-skinned taskmaster with a political gift bigger than just good communication skills and an eye toward sustainability.

Princeton needs a mayor who can bring an ecumenical cadence to the public trust who will then hook up the utilities for two separate communities now living in an under construction, split level home, as a family of one. Getting the foundation poured and the framing right is the first task at hand and most important stage of this consolidation. Kevin Wilkes will be that mayor.

He’ll be that mayor because this is what Kevin has done successfully all of his life. The new consolidation phase will also need a leader who is calm, but ready for a storm as different visions converge. Princeton will need a leader who can build these things, then after the sheetrock dust has cleared, turn around and inspect the job better than anyone else. The only person I know who can do this consolidation project the best is Kevin Wilkes, because Kevin Wilkes works for this town and he loves this town.

And he will always work for Princeton. Mercer County Freeholder Andrew Koontz once said that Kevin Wilkes was a tireless worker; not because he never gets tired but because he keeps working when he is tired. It’s true: Kevin is indefatigable.

I can’t wait for all residents to know what so many Princetonians already know about Kevin’s public life, but also his contributions to the town as a private citizen. One of the things that will emerge out of his legacy will be more public art in our town. The Princeton Writer’s Block on then-undeveloped land along Paul Robeson Place was achieved out of his own commitment to irrigate his community’s public art desert, keeping it watered for other things to come. In the two public art projects that I have worked on with Kevin, he always said two things to me, “We’ve got to keep this thing rolling and we have to pull it to the finish line.” Princeton needs this energy and this attitude in the nascent throes of a consolidation. Kevin will assess consolidation, address any problems, and you can be sure he’ll get Princeton landing on its feet.

Peter Soderman

A Man of Action and Results

To the Editor:

Kevin Wilkes is a “mensch”.  In my experience with politicians, you rarely see a politician go way out of his way personally and financially to help someone in need with his own effort and personal resources. But in this case, Kevin wasn’t a politician – this was done years before Kevin ran for office in Princeton.

Many years ago, when I worked for HomeFront, I helped a woman from Ewing Township avoid foreclosure.   After successfully completing a 5 year long Chapter 13 bankruptcy ordeal to save her home, she suffered a devastating fire.  She had no resources left to repair her home, Ewing Township condemned it and again she found herself in danger of losing her home.  She and her husband and granddaughter were forced to move out and rent a tiny house elsewhere in Ewing.

I went to Kevin Wilkes for advice and he took on the project.  Kevin not only proved to Ewing Township that the home was structurally sound but he stepped in with his construction crew and made significant repairs to her home at way below their actual cost.  She paid what she could to cover materials, Kevin did the rest.  Kevin was able to get her condemnation lifted and she was able to return to her home and get her life back on track.

I want Princeton voters to see beyond Kevin’s known talents and his negotiating skills with the University and his clear ideas for a united Princeton.  This story tells what type of man Kevin is; he is a leader and a man of action.  This is why I am supporting him for Mayor; I hope you will join me on June 5th.

Mary Ellen Marino

Princeton Need’s Lempert’s Sensitive Leadership

Dear Editor:

Princeton is blessed by so many people who volunteer their time for public service and from those exceptional training grounds we are privileged to have excellent and experienced candidates running for mayor of the newly consolidated Princeton.  The primary season is closing fast and the polls will soon be open for an historic vote, for consolidated council and for mayor.

I’m supporting Liz Lempert for mayor.  On balance it’s difficult to sort out the differences.  Both candidates have spectacular backgrounds and many tributes to their success in our towns and beyond.  Liz has served as deputy Township mayor with strength and insight, as she has moved forward  on environmental initiatives, for land preservation and conservation projects, and on consolidation with more responsive and continuing fiscally sound financial planning, keeping our tax rate flat while preserving Princeton’s AAA bond rating.

But these complex times call for even more collaboration and creativity from all sectors and Liz listens – and listens intently.  Liz is accessible and engaged and encourages others, as she has with me, to become more engaged in local community solutions.  As Liz listens she clarifies, gives feedback, is supportive but often remains neutral until she can hear and understand all sides, leading to her fair decision.

Liz has a powerful personality with social intelligence and vision to set her sights directly on issues that need attention.  As Peter Drucker once said,“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

Consolidated Princeton needs the sensitive and inclusive leadership that Liz Lempert delivers. Her “transformational” abilities, energized in the last Obama campaign, will serve all of us in Princeton in this approaching period of adjustment and learning in our new consolidated community. Please join me in voting for Liz Lempert for Mayor on June 5th.

Doreen Blanc Rockstrom

Lempert Committed to the Environment and Sustainability

To the Editor:

Liz Lempert supports public education, smart growth, environmental protection and social justice, and she knows how to bring people together to resolve difficult issues. That’s why I support her for mayor. She is open-minded, fair, pragmatic and gets things done, as evidenced by her founding Save Our Schools, preserving 66 acres of open space including the Princeton Ridge Preserve, saving the Human Resources Commission and helping to keep taxes flat in spite of increased costs.

As Liz’s fellow member on the Princeton Environmental Commission, I can say that her commitment to the environment and sustainability has been unsurpassed by any other municipal official who has served on the PEC. As a fellow mom of two children in the public schools, I am grateful for Liz’s tough and ongoing fight with the state legislature to give local voters – not the state – power over charter schools that usurp local funds to create boutique schools within a system ranked among the best in the nation. Here, too, her activism and commitment to public education are unsurpassed by any other municipal official I’ve known in my 21 years as a Borough resident.

Liz also has been a local hero for the less fortunate in our town. There are many individuals in Princeton who have low-paying jobs with no health insurance and have difficulty paying rent and putting food on the table. Princeton’s Human Service Commission exists to help these people when they are in need or in crisis, yet it was nearly abolished. Liz worked hard to save it.

Lastly, I am grateful for Liz’s successful efforts in working with officials and staff to keep the tax rate flat, and for her intent to keep it flat or drive it down once she’s elected mayor. You’ll find that Liz is a true public servant. She’s short on rhetoric and long on action. She’s not in the race for the limelight. She’s in it to keep Princeton a great, neighborhood-oriented and progressive place to live for all of us.

Wendy Kaczerski

Wilkes Knows How to Bridge Local Differences

To the Editor:

We write as two longtime Princeton citizens of sharply divergent national political perspectives — the first undersigned a Reagan economic conservative, the second a strong social and economic progressive — to urge all of you of all political persuasions to join us in supporting Kevin Wilkes for Mayor of Princeton on Tuesday, June 5.

Our political differences, at least on national issues, are precisely the point. That is because Kevin Wilkes has an exceptional and proven ability to bridge local differences, to mediate among local institutions, and to bring citizens together in causes that serve the total community.  Princeton has never needed such abilities more.  This is a community riven by all too many divisions — Borough and Township agendas, town and gown, wealthy and needy.  It also is a community in need of collective action, not endless arguments, over multiple pressing issues from transportation to middle class housing, from sensible economic development to sustainability.  Princeton is a community that needs to both plan for its future and act for the present, very much including finding new ways to keep public servants — firemen, policemen, teachers and others — living here among us. And we need to reorient the increasingly fragile relationship between town and gown into a newly cooperative and constructive one.

On all these issues and others Kevin Wilkes over many years in many roles has demonstrated both vision and vigor.  We ask you to join us in supporting him.

Peter R. Kann
Sheldon B. Sturges