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As Consolidation Draws Near, New Governing Body Gears Up to Lead the United Princeton

The new governing body for the united Princeton will attend an orientation with a lawyer tomorrow afternoon to review the borough form of government.

Bill Kearns, the lawyer who is serving as the consultant for the transition task force, will meet with the new mayor ant the new six-member council at 3 p.m at the township municipal building at 400 Witherspoon Street. The new council will also meet with a consultant to set goals later in the month.

The new government will officially take over Jan. 1. and will hold a reorganization meeting where residents will be appointed to boards, consultants will be approved and other items will be reviewed.

A new president will also be selected to lead the new Borough Council. Sources say there is some debate among the governing body members about who the council president should be. The newly elected governing body went into lockdown mode with the press after a reporter started making calls about the issue on Friday. Officials contacted by Planet Princeton said it is too early to decide who the new council president should be, because the council has a lot of other work to do between now and then. They would not elaborate.

Sources said two or possibly three people are vying for the top council post. Some members support Bernie Miller, while new Mayor Liz Lempert is said to favor Heather Howard for the presidency. Jo Butler could also possibly seek the post.

Some officials think a member of the existing Borough council should become the president becauseBorough members have experience with the borough form of government. Others think Miller should be the president because he was the top vote getter in the council race. Some members have concerns about selecting Howard as president because she is a Princeton University employee. Lempert’s husband also works for Princeton.

Under the Borough form of government, the mayor is elected by the voters to serve a four-year term, The six-member council, elected at large, serves a term of three years. The council president is selected by the council. The mayor only votes in the case of the tie. The mayor also nominates and, with the advice and approval of the council, appoint all subordinate officers of the borough.

The terms of the new council members will be staggered by drawing straws. Some officials have questioned this process and asked for a legal opinion in the issue. Some believe the top vote getters should receive the longest terms. A lawyer already issued an opinion that the terms should be decided by lot, and state statute says “Their terms shall be arranged, by lot if necessary, so that the terms of two councilmen shall expire at the end of each year.”

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • Ted Mills

    I think the selection of the president of Borough Council should be a matter for public conversation among the incoming mayor, Council, and citizens of the new Princeton. Why is this important decision being made behind closed doors? Is this a preview of how the new Princeton will be governed?

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24 Hour Psycho by Douglas Gordon

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