Election 2020 endorsement letters (mayor, council, other Princeton area, state races)
Editor’s note: We are running all endorsement letters for candidates seeking elected office in one post that will be updated as new letters come in. We reserve the right to limit the number of letters for a particular candidate. We have made the decision to combine the letters on one page in order to give readers a broader view of all of the letters submitted and to address the tactics of campaigns. It is now rare that residents take the initiative to write letters themselves. Campaigns have people who manage letters to the editor and coordinate strategies, asking people to write letters. Often the letters are written and/or by the campaign and residents are asked to just sign their names to the letters. Please note, we do not run campaign endorsement letters signed by more than two people.
Shaw believes in the democratic process
When Dina Shaw decided to enter the race for Princeton Council, she knew that as a challenger to two incumbents, she would need to campaign right up to the primary, originally scheduled for June 2, now postponed until July 7. So she did what good candidates do: she organized, she planned, and she started to execute. Then the pandemic hit, and the tale of two campaigns began.
The two incumbents quickly decided that they would suspend their campaigns and instead encourage residents to donate to coronavirus-relief charities – a lovely gesture, but also one that would accrue great advantage to the incumbents if only the challenger would agree to go along with this pact. But Dina didn’t. She couldn’t. Her team was assembled, her website up, her door hangers ordered, and her ads reserved. So Dina found a way to hold zoom coffees and support coronavirus-relief charities. She found a way to hang door hangers and support food banks. She planted her lawn signs and supported local businesses. And she honored her commitment to run ads in our local press, which also were hard hit by the pandemic. She believes in the democratic process, and she had the vision, creativity, and determination to run a stellar campaign in spite of the challenges. Those are the same qualities that will make her an effective Councilperson.
I understand why the incumbents wouldn’t want to answer questions about the parking meter debacle, the money wasted on the ill-fated canopy, or the failed Seminary redevelopment. Now more than ever, our democracy is under siege, and Democrats should be doing everything possible to ensure it remains vibrant, including campaigning. The pandemic has been unprecedented, but Democrats have been able to focus on multiple issues at one time – on supporting the underserved in our community, Black Lives Matter, reopening our local businesses, and, yes, politics. We need a person with vision and courage, one who will own her decisions. Our local economy is on a precipice. Dina’s experience as successful entrepreneur could prove invaluable to our recovery. She has proven that she is undaunted by tough challenges. During the campaign, Dina demonstrated determination, grace under pressure, a sense of humor, and most of all, good decision-making. I encourage you to support Dina on July 7.
18 Hibben Road
In Support of Leticia Fraga
When deciding to vote for a candidate for any office, I make an assessment of their demonstrated values, the positions that they have actively taken over time, and their accomplishments. I tend to go on what is a known quantity based on a candidate’s engagement, knowledge, substance, consistency, and effectiveness. Leticia Fraga is just that candidate.
When asked to respond, Councilwoman Leticia Fraga offers suggestions and actively seeks solutions. She is sincerely interested in the entire community, but also has a unique sensitivity to those who meet the challenges of survival on a daily basis.
It is both timely and significant that Leticia, as the first Latinx member of Council, is also Princeton’s Police Commissioner and Liaison to the Civil Rights Commission. Her work with local events, in coordination with the Police Department, has facilitated meaningful and respectful community relationships. Because of her professional experience, she brings the same connectivity to her work with the Human Services Commission and the Board of Health.
I have been particularly impressed by Councilwoman Fraga’s leadership on the development of a downtown parking program that considers the impacts to the residential neighborhoods, as well as the needs of downtown employers. Relevant to that effort is her membership on the Economic Development and Public Safety Committees. Through her hands on approach and by doing the research, she has been able to generate some options that address both parties – to their mutual benefit.
Leticia is not only clear on her positions, she acts on the things she commits to. As an incumbent candidate, her positions and voting record is thoughtful, well-founded, and consistent. Her active engagement, performance, execution, and results in public service makes Leticia a real powerhouse!
Therefore, I will be mailing my ballot (or going to the polls on July 7) to vote for Leticia Fraga for Princeton Council in the best interest of our entire community. I ask that you do the same.
Former Mayor, Princeton Borough
Shaw an innovative leader
Princeton residents have received their mail-in ballots by now. For those who are weighing their choices for Princeton Council, we are writing to wholeheartedly endorse Dina Shaw’s candidacy for this role. We have known Dina for close to two decades, and whether in the capacity of PTO President for Littlebrook Elementary School or JW Middle School, or in a board position at The Jewish Center, Dina has proven to be an innovative leader who has never wavered from tough decisions. While PTO President for Littlebrook she saw a need for, and implemented, a slate of after-school programming which continues to be extremely popular with children and fulfills a vital need for parents. In addition, while PTO President at John Witherspoon Middle School, she helped develop new and creative fundraising solutions, including reconstructing the dues collection process and designing sponsorship opportunities for local businesses which significantly increased the funds available for PTO activities.
Due to Dina’s extensive involvement in the Princeton community, we have seen her network expand significantly over the years and believe that this will make her an informed contributor to the Council should she be elected. Further, her approachable and inclusive style encourages diverse viewpoints. Dina offers a fresh voice to enrich the Princeton Council, with new ideas that are grounded by the long-standing principles we value such as education, smart planning for our community to maintain its unique character that we cherish, and support for a vibrant central business district that serves our needs.
Above all, we believe that Dina’s track record has clearly demonstrated a commitment to collaborative dialogue, timely involvement and pragmatic action that will prove invaluable to address the challenges that lie ahead for our community. She is a doer, a people person, and is not afraid to try new things. Dina’s candor, creativity and resourcefulness will ensure that the difficult decisions to come will be tested through transparent and thoughtful debate. In short, we are confident that Dina’s service on the Princeton Council will help provide the leadership that our community needs to effectively navigate these evolving times.
Nicole and Jeff Bergman
Lee and Steve Yonish
Shaw will ask questions and get things done
I am writing in support of Dina Shaw for Princeton Council. Dina is a person who gets things done, whether it’s building and selling her tech business or her extensive track record in volunteering with many organizations in Princeton. I’m sure this will translate to her work on Princeton Council.
Dina is not afraid to speak up. Dina was the first person to bring concerns about overcrowding in our schools to the Board of Education. Mindful of the costs associated with educating students, Dina also persistently and effectively pushed the PPS Administration and Board of Education to set up procedures to ensure that only those students living in Princeton were attending our schools. I was on the Board of Education at the time and was impressed with her persistence in showing up to Board meetings and speaking effectively. If she was able to successfully push the school administration and Board – unfortunately, no small feat – imagine what she can do for Princeton when part of the Council. With the upcoming implementation of the affordable housing plan, we can count on Dina Shaw to use her experience to effectively look out for us all in balancing the competing needs.
We need people in our local government who will speak up, ask questions and get things done. Please join me in voting for Dina Shaw in the Democratic primary on July 7.
Re-elect David Cohen to Council
I’m writing to support David Cohen, a Democrat on the Princeton Town Council who is seeking re-election.
I met David last year, when my neighbors and I attended a meeting of the planning board, on which David sits, to express our concerns about a developer’s plan to tear down a house at the end of our street and build two larger houses in its place. Our street has 25 or so modest homes on tree-filled quarter acre lots, and we were concerned both that the planned 4500 square foot houses would be out of character and that stormwater runoff would make the homes on the downhill side of the development vulnerable to flooding.
At the meeting, David – an architect by training — listened intently to our concerns and suggested several concrete solutions. Thanks to David, the town required the developer to adopt a more rigorous stormwater management plan and to create a conservation easement, preserving several trees on the property.
Since then, I’ve learned that David’s conscientious approach is characteristic of his work in town governance. In debates over a proposal to limit FAR waivers, for instance — an effort to discourage tear-downs by limiting the size of new construction on smaller lots — David both articulated the importance of preserving Princeton’s affordability and demonstrated his willingness to listen to good faith objections about the measure’s unintended consequences. His approach to this issue — listening deeply, adjusting his position where he felt it was warranted, always keeping core values in mind — is typical of David’s decision-making.
Since March, David has devoted himself to ameliorating the effects of COVID-19 in our community. He was instrumental in moving the town’s land use boards (planning, zoning, historical preservation) to a virtual platform, working closely with municipal staff, board members, and town attorneys to ensure the boards continued to operate in a transparent, participatory, and lawful way. In addition, David has been working closely with the Bicycle Advisory Committee, the Economic Development Committee, and town staff to rebalance our streets to accommodate COVID-related changes, such as reduced car traffic, increased bike and pedestrian use, and retail businesses’ desire to use some of the public right-of-way for outdoor commerce (dining or sales). The plan, soon to be rolled out, is a result of this group’s near-daily meetings and commitment to seeing our town through this crisis. Finally, the neighborhood Buddy Initiative that David proposed and developed last year has, over the past several months, been an essential resource to seniors and others with limited mobility. When I volunteered, I wasn’t surprised to discover that it was David himself who emailed to connect me with my “buddy.”
David’s experience and expertise, his responsiveness to constituents, his ability to devise creative solutions to our town’s challenges, and his willingness to roll up his sleeves to get the job done have all made him an extremely effective legislator for our town. Please join me in supporting David in the upcoming primary. Now more than ever, Princeton needs leaders like David.
Re-elect Leticia Fraga to Council
When we mail our ballots for the July 7th election, we will vote to re-elect Leticia Fraga for Princeton Council. We urge Princeton voters to join us.
From the moment she took office in January 2018, Leticia has been a dynamic force, offering thoughtful, original perspective and then taking action. Throughout her first term, Fraga has shown intelligence, perseverance, empathy, and a willingness to listen to a variety of voices — including those from historically marginalized populations.
When news of COVID-19 hit, Councilperson Fraga snapped into action. As liaison to the Board of Health as well as the Commissions for Human Services and for Civil Rights, Fraga helped assure that our community managed an unprecedented set of challenges compassionately and responsibly.
Anticipating that there would likely be families that would not be able to quarantine safely because of their crowded living conditions, Fraga worked with the departments of Health and Human Services to find housing for individuals who would need to shelter in place when they or someone in the household tested positive for COVID. Fraga made sure the vulnerable individuals had food, bedding and PPE. In keeping individuals safe, she helped keep us all safe.
Fraga’s growing portfolio of responsibilities reflects her expertise – in public safety, health, immigration, youth, human services, and civil rights.
Of the candidates running, only Fraga has the track record of tirelessly fighting racism and injustice. Demonstrations around the country show how urgently we need to recommit to this fight. Leticia will play a crucial role as Princeton keeps at that hard work.
Inequality is as pressing a problem now as it has been at any time since the Gilded Age, clearly in evidence here in Princeton. Leticia’s presence where critical decisions are made has been crucial in extending opportunity and access for economically vulnerable residents. As the first Latinx elected official to represent the people of Princeton, and an immigrant from Mexico herself, Leticia helps give voice to the historically marginalized and underserved. The result is a safer, happier community for us all.
Leticia understands Princeton as its own entity and as part of a nation at a crossroads. Through organizations like the National Association of Latino Elected Officials and the New Jersey League of Municipalities, she plugs Princeton into larger conversations, brings home best-practices, policy research and successful models. Whether she is running the 2020 Complete Count Campaign of the US Census (crucial to getting Princeton our share of federal funding), winning inclusive restroom signage, or mandating that low-wage workers are paid for their work, Princeton can count on Leticia to look out for all of us.
We urge our friends and neighbors to re-elect Leticia Fraga, for a safe, inclusive, just and sustainable Princeton.
Freda a competent leader
In a time that is unlike any other in my 68 years of age (and 17 of those years living in Princeton), conversations with friends and neighbors turn again and again to the subject of leadership. I’m grateful for the leadership of our current elected officials, and I support strongly the bid of Mark Freda to succeed Liz Lempert as Mayor of Princeton. My family and I have known Mark for close to a decade but in a nonpolitical context. Our acquaintance came about because of our joint involvement in aiding a family in crisis. His willingness to give of his time and expertise impressed me, but his integrity and judgment made me especially glad to have the opportunity to work with him in some small way.
Since those first meetings, I have followed the other work that Mark has done for Princeton, which is partly documented, but also partly behind the scenes conducted in a self-effacing manner. That latter aspect is characteristic of Mark and reminds me of the old saying that a person may do an immense deal of good if they do not care who gets the credit for it.
At this time, local politics may not be at the forefront of our concerns, but supporting Mark Freda to be the next mayor of Princeton’s is a way of ensuring again that at times like this our elected officials are competent, compassionate, and communicative.
We need continuity
At this point, it’s just under 3 weeks until the primary on July 7 (and you may have already gotten your vote by mail ballot). There are 3 candidates for two positions on the Princeton town council. All three have strong supporters testifying to the skills and experience each of them have to offer if elected. In an ordinary year we assess candidates, often influenced by the opinions of friends and neighbors, and our feelings about the issues each candidate highlights and the problems they propose to solve. This is not an ordinary year. What strikes me about this one is the way in which the council has pulled together as a group and addressed the many issues they expected to face, in the midst of a pandemic, and providing leadership while learning to conduct the business of the town in an entirely different way.
For me this is a strong argument for re-electing the incumbent council members, David Cohen and Leticia Fraga. In addition to what they individually have to offer, they have been working through this unique time effectively with others on council. When there is competence and collaboration, sometimes what we need most is continuity. This is one of those times.
Freda has a vision for the community
I write this letter in strong support of Mark Freda’s candidacy for mayor of Princeton Council. As a former council member of Princeton Borough, I benefited first-hand from Mark’s leadership as Council President and valued his vision of community and drive for effective and transparent government.
As mayor, Mark will bring to the position a sensibility that comes from intimately knowing Princeton. Having grown up in Princeton; serving as a local fire fighter from a young age; and rising to leadership positions in the fire department, with the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad, with community groups like Spirit of Princeton, and on the town governing body, Mark’s heart, vision and initiative are all-in to ensuring Princeton’s vitality as a quality town.
Significantly, Mark, in word and deed, seeks good process. He’s made clear that his governing philosophy will be guided by openness, honesty, transparency and communication. Although Mark and I did not always agree on substantive issues (though on the vast majority, we did), you always knew the basis of Mark’s positions and could trust his detailed understanding of municipal concerns and know that he always read the fine print to ensure robust advocacy for town residents.
For these reasons, I’m enthusiastic about Mark’s run for mayor and hope you will join me to support his campaign.
Ryan Stark Lilienthal
Freda would bring leadership experience to mayoral position
I am delighted that Mark Freda has decided to run for mayor of Princeton. I had the privilege of serving with Mark in 2012 when I was one of the Borough Council’s representatives to the Consolidation Transition Task Force. Mark chaired the task force, and we served on multiple subcommittees together. I quickly became a fan of Mark’s, both personally and professionally.a
We were handed an aspirational roadmap that needed to be transformed into tangible product that would allow a consolidated government to be operational on January 1, 2013. Mark’s experience in government and his deep roots in the community were invaluable as the process unfolded. More than that, however, his leadership skills were outstanding. Although consolidation had passed overwhelmingly in both the Borough and the Township, it remained a delicate and controversial issue, and implementing the reality of consolidation meant working around the landmines of rules, regulations, various departments, and personnel.
Here is what I appreciated about Mark’s leadership: he didn’t shy away from the tough conversations, taking chances, being truly transparent, or managing differences of opinion. For example, on the personnel subcommittee, we felt there might be an opportunity to move to Paid Time Off [PTO], a concept used by many governments and corporations. The employees, who were understandably anxious about additional change, protested strongly, and the idea was dropped. We tried; it didn’t work; and we moved on. No finger-pointing, no recriminations.
On the infrastructure and operations subcommittee, I felt strongly that the Recreation Department needed a dedicated crew of employees to ensure optimal operation of the pool and high-quality park maintenance. There was an emphasis on cross-training during consolidation, so not everyone agreed with me, including Mark. Nonetheless, we had the discussion at the subcommittee level, at the taskforce level and in the consolidated government. While Mark didn’t agree initially, he never undermined my efforts, never made it political or personal. Today Rec has a small, dedicated crew, and Mark and I agree that it has paid off.
Mark’s professional life has been about leadership and accountability. He understands chain of command and the importance of everyone doing his/her job to exacting standards. He has vision, and he knows how to move organizations and projects forward. There are many challenges facing our town, and all towns, and I feel strongly that Mark will be the outstanding leader we need as we move to Princeton 2.0.
Fraga an important voice on council
We write in strong support of the candidacy of Leticia Fraga for Princeton Council. As a member of council, Leticia has worked tirelessly to address issues of social inequity that exist in our society, including in our town. She has worked on behalf of providing a quality public education for the children of Princeton and for housing that is affordable for all economic levels of our society, including seniors who want to age in place. Leticia’s voice has been an important one on issues of civil rights and the status of Princeton as a welcoming community. Her experience leads her to recognize the need for a vibrant downtown and she leads the municipality’s Economic Development Committee. We ask you to join us in supporting the leadership and unique voice of Leticia Fraga for Princeton Council.
Ruth and Bernie Miller