Princeton Council’s plan to consolidate commissions and boards undermines community engagement and empowerment

Dear Editor:

As someone who has lived in Princeton for over 50 years and has served on the Princeton Health Commission, Princeton Humans Services Commission, and Princeton School Board, was president of several PTOs, and served as the executive director of the YWCA in addition to other leadership roles throughout the community, I am truly shocked at the move to consolidate municipal commissions and boards at a time when the town is growing and the importance of inclusion and participation should be a goal. 

Instead, the proposed consolidation of the Princeton Civil Rights Commission, the Princeton Human Services Commission, and the Princeton Affordable Housing Board creates a structure that gives power to fewer individuals, failing to empower and involve the Princeton community. It makes no sense.  And it will undermine people’s ability to have their voices heard, and diminish opportunities for involvement that makes a difference.

I hope you will consider the consequences of giving only a few people the ability to make decisions and reconsider this poor proposal. Is this really democracy at its best?  Princeton can do better. I hope the Princeton Council members will vote no. 

Thank you,

Marge Smith


  1. Interested members of the public can still participate in the meetings of these 3 groups, whether they are left as is or recreated as 3 permanent subcommittees of a new 9-citizen umbrella committee. I’d like to know examples of past cases where effectiveness would be lost under the proposed structure.

    1. Commissions are not strictly advisory and housing boards also have some authority. These entities are not stricty advisory. Three commissions/boards totaling 29 people would be consolidated to one advisory board with seven members and two alternates.

  2. I agree completely. Just another sign of a tone-deaf local government that, at present, feels no pressure to please the population because only one political party in this town has any chance of being elected. They can just appoint their successors and pursue their limited goals without reference to the larger populace who, they feel, is transient and just doesn’t care. If you are new in town, please take note of this. A lot of things have gone right in Princeton–we still have trees, some diversity, and some degree of walkability around the center of town–but keeping those qualities is not a given at the rate things are going. I’m ready to vote for almost any independent candidate running for council this year.

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