Princeton Council candidate boycotts ‘pay to play’ local Democratic club endorsement process

Adam Bierman

Princeton Council candidate Adam Bierman has decided not to participate in the Princeton Community Democratic Organization endorsement process this Sunday night, March 17, because of the dues requirement to vote. Bierman says the endorsement process is a “pay to play” situation with a membership that does not reflect the diversity of the Democratic Party in Princeton.

“The candidate selection process is further complicated when the Princeton Municipal Democratic Committee, which is the legal Democratic organization in Princeton, references the PCDO paid vote in its selection process in spite of the 2012 statement from the Mercer County Democratic Chair  Liz Muoio that the committees are not giving any control to the PCDO in terms of the endorsement process,” Bierman said. “Unfortunately, this is not the case. There still remain standing rules that give the PCDO a role in the municipal committee’s selection process. References to the paid PCDO vote have no place in the selection process of the municipal committee. There is a need to get money out the process.”

March 3 was the deadline to pay membership dues to be eligible to vote. Standard membership dues are $15 per year per person. If someone wants to pay less, they must print our and mail in a pdf form. The minimum fee is $5. People can become members of the club up to two weeks before the endorsement vote. The only requirement is that they be residents and registered Democrats. People often join the club right before the endorsement meeting with the sole purpose of supporting a particular candidate, then never return to the club meetings.

Bierman said he is basing his candidacy as an independent Democrat on competence, transparency , and the urgent need to make Princeton more affordable.  He said competence in executing municipal projects, transparency for all public undertakings, and an effort to make Princeton livable for all people are the goals of his campaign.


  1. Having to pay to vote … a poll tax, essentially, is just wrong and has no place in the democratic process. The PCDO needs to abandon its practice. Come on, PCDO, you know and can do better. I have raised this concern over the years with several PCDO Executive Committee members…leadership needs to endothelial practice now and allow registered Democrat residing in Princeton who shows up for the endorsement meeting the right to vote. Kudos to Adam for standing up and forcing the dialogue to ban the practice

  2. Thanks for the integrity Adam. Everyone knows the endorsement process is rigged for whomever the mayor and her circle want to be on the council. There should be a process that is fair and at no cost. There’s not a lot of diversity in the PCDO membership, which is ironic given all the talk about the importance of diversity.

  3. I go to the PCDO endorsement meetings to hear the candidates, in person, side by side. They make statements, and answer questions, and generally reveal their competence to serve. Is $15 really too much to pay for this opportunity?

  4. @Lincoln There’s a lot of privilege built into being able to participate in the PCDO meeting. The monetary cost (which is in reality, a poll tax that we’ve eliminated in this country), time (I have to work and others have to take care of their families), and transportation (there’s poor public transportation on Sunday nites) are all obstacles.

  5. The PCDO is a Democratic Party club just like those in countless cities and towns across the country. It helps Democrats build the party at the grassroots level. It therefore strives to grow. The endorsement process invites new members who may or may not become more involved. The dues ($5 minimum) pay for running the organization, which hosts monthly meetings, provides a presidential campaign headquarters and offers other activities in support of Democrats.

    It’s absurd to call this “pay to play” or a “poll tax.” It’s an endorsement vote, not an election. $5 is very little and no one is benefiting financially.

  6. @anon It’s not just an endorsement vote. The vote is used to determine ballot placement which is an extremely important factor. The PCDO vote shouldn’t have an effect on the election ballot.

  7. Are people too frightened to speak up and join Adam in questioning the status quo of paying to vote? Princeton’s social circle is so entwined with the PCDO that people will express concern to me in private yet will not speak in public. I know you’re out there and equally concerned about this practice. Speak up – it’s the only way to force the dialogue and effectuate change. The PCDO leadership needs to hear that it is no longer acceptable.

  8. It is a PAID vote. Get Princeton Democratic Elections off the auction block. Free the Municipal Committee from the PCDO. Money suppresses voting rights. Of all towns !

  9. The County Chair has the sole legal power to determine ballot placement and to award the party slogan. Neither the PCDO nor the local Democratic Municipal Committee has any legal authority to make that decision. Which endorsement vote is more representative of Princeton Democrats is apparently up for debate, but the County Chair has no legal obligation to listen to either entity.

  10. Oh please, how many times have the municipal committee or the county chair gone against the PCDO vote?

  11. Anon should read Title 19 of the New Jersey Revised Code. Only the County Chair and the Municipal Committee are the elected and legal representatives of the Princeton Democratic Party. The PCDO is not a legal representative of the Party.

    The County Chair does make the final determination on ballot placement. The County Chair has stated in the Trenton Times 3/25/12 that “the committees are not giving any control to the PCDO in terms of the endorsement process.” This still has not happened. PCDO control in the Municipal Committee needs to end.

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