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Four Candidates Contend for Seat on Council

Candace Braun

Four candidates and more than 40 Princeton residents gathered on Sunday, December 14, to learn about the potential replacement for Joe O'Neill's seat on Borough Council.

The candidates are Andrew Koontz of Spruce Street, Jenny Crumiller of Library Place, Mark Freda of Fisher Avenue, and Anne Waldron Neumann of Alexander Road.

Once Mayor-Elect O'Neill takes on his new position in January, his Council seat will be filled by a Borough resident voted in by current Council members. The Princeton Democratic Committee will recommend a group of three candidates in the near future.

Different from past years, the Democratic Committee chose to allow the public to get to know the candidates prior to the Council vote this year. Also varying from other years, a number of individuals have shown interest in the seat, while in the past only one or two residents came forward.

Yina Moore of Green Street also stood up during the candidates' brief presentations, voicing an interest in the position. However, she said she does not have the time to commit to the position. Ms. Moore said her family has been part of the community for three generations, and a new, more diverse opinion is needed on the Council.

"I hope the newly seated Council person will draw from the community and the many experiences they've had here," Ms. Moore said.

One of the hottest topics of debate between candidates at the forum, which was held at the Suzanne Patterson Senior Center, was how to get the University to contribute more to Borough expenses. Mr. Freda suggested taking money the University donates and using it to directly decrease the Borough's debt.

"Our debt is one of our biggest increases in taxes in town," said Mr. Freda.

Ms. Neumann disagreed, saying that that was a demeaning approach, and thought that the best way to get the University to contribute more would be to take a list of facts and figures from Borough Police to the University, and show them how often they use police services.

But Mr. Koontz said that the Borough should take advantage of the hold Democrats will soon have on the state legislature to force the University to pay school costs for faculty members' children.

Ms. Crumiller said she would need to research the problem more before giving an informed solution to the problem.

One resident asked candidates what their future vision of Princeton would be, and if they hope to find the town becoming bigger and more city-like, or taking on a low profile.

Mr. Freda said he was decidedly against the downtown redevelopment project and spoke against it at Council meetings when plans were being made. He said he wants to do whatever possible to keep Princeton from becoming a city.

He said if another issue were to come up that could possibly affect the Borough negatively 10 years down the road, he would vote against it.

"I like the fact that Princeton is a small town," he said.

Ms. Crumiller said she doesn't think the Borough has the potential of becoming a city because it is mostly built out at the moment. She said the only way it would affect the Borough at this point would be if it consolidated with the Township.

Mr. Koontz, who was in favor of redevelopment, said he likes the small-town feel, but also enjoys the many merchants and forms of entertainment that are offered by the different facets of Princeton. He said that traffic is just something with which residents need to come to grips.

"It's the price we pay for being a destination," he said.

Ms. Neumann took the opposing standpoint, saying that Princeton shouldn't have to be a destination, and the Borough should work towards moving away from that title.

"I think a lot of Princetonians wish we were less of a destination," she said.

On another issue, all five candidates agreed that the Borough needs to get into a discussion with the Arts Council before any plans move forward with the renovations of their building.

Meet the Candidates

Mr. Koontz has been a resident of the Borough since 1992, and has been active over the years in various Democratic campaigns. He currently serves as chairman of the Princeton Democratic Committee.

Mr. Koontz works for CBS Television in New York City, and said he could offer the position of a 30-something Borough commuter on Council. He stands out from the other candidates because he was in favor of the downtown redevelopment project.

"I would like to continue working with the community to make this town vibrant," he said.

Ms. Crumiller is a two-year Borough resident and was a resident of the Township for the preceding 10 years. She has worked on various political campaigns at the local and national level, as well as a neighborhood committee that helped stop Princeton Medical Center from expanding their parking garage into the residences.

In addition, she worked to pass the resolution in the Borough against the Patriot Act. Ms. Crumiller said she would offer a lengthy background in teamwork if she is chosen for Council.

"Working with a group of people toward a common goal is what I do best," she said. "I'm a team player."

Mr. Freda is a life-long member of the community, and served as a member of Borough Council from 1986 to 1999. Currently the vice president of Goldman Sachs and Co., Mr. Freda has been a member of the Princeton Fire Company and the First Aid and Rescue Squad since the 70s.

Mr. Freda has two children in the Princeton Regional School District, and is often active at School Board meetings.

He said his past experience on Borough Council gives him the knowledge to serve again. "I am someone who works hard to find the solution to a problem," he said.

Ms. Neumann moved to the Borough from Australia four years ago, and has lived in several different countries over the years. She is originally from the Borough, where her father served as municipal treasurer.

Ms. Neumann has a doctorate in English literature, and teaches writing at the Princeton Arts Council. She has also worked with Princeton Future, the non-profit citizens' group seeking holistic development in Princeton.

One area in which Ms. Neumann expressed an interest was in cutting down improvements on the Arts Council building.

"I feel that at least half of their development plan is for show," she said.

The Borough Council will vote on Mr. O'Neill's replacement sometime in January.

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