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(Photo by George Vogelt)

THE CHANGING FACE OF COMMITTEE: Township Committeeman Bill Enslin, center, announced he would not seek re-election in the fall, but used the opportunity to endorse Democrats Vicky Bergman, and incumbent Deputy Mayor Bernie Miller. Currently, there are no Republicans vying for the open seats.

Township Election Season Begins Early

Matthew Hersh

Calling this early start of the election season the "right time" to announce his intentions as he faces an expiring term on Township Committee, Bill Enslin, a two-term Democrat and a 17-year member of the Princeton Regional Planning Board, announced Monday he would not seek a third term in the November election.

Mr. Enslin then endorsed Vicky Bergman, a five-year member of the planning board, as the candidate he would like to see elected as his successor. Ms. Bergman will run on a Democratic ticket that will include incumbent Deputy Mayor Bernie Miller.

Mr. Enslin, 69, indicated that he might be willing to serve on various task forces or commissions after he is out of office. "I would like to protect my options, but as special situations come up, I would like to participate in whatever capacity the mayor should decide." An indication that Mr. Enslin may have already made up his mind about not seeking re-election came in early January when Bernie Miller became deputy mayor ‹ a post Mr. Enslin had held for two and a half years.

A retired senior vice president of Lockheed Martin Corp., Mr. Miller was nominated to Township Committee in June 2002 to fill a seat after Committeeman Steve Frakt resigned. Mr. Miller was subsequently elected to a three-year term the following November. Mr. Miller had made an unsuccessful bid for Committee in 1983 when he and Democrat Eleanor Lewis lost to incumbents Winthrop Pike and Bill Cherry. Outlining his goals for a second full term on Committee, Mr. Miller placed an emphasis on increasing senior housing, maintaining the Township's AAA bond rating, and addressing infrastructural demands as the municipality becomes more developed.

Ms. Bergman, 60, is by no means an unfamiliar presence in the Township. The Leabrook Lane resident served nine years on the Township's Zoning Board of Adjustment in addition to her five years on the planning board, three years of which she served as chair. Throughout her time on the planning board, Ms. Bergman consistently supported change from a developmental stance. If her run proves successful, she said she would bring much of what she promoted on the planning board to the dais at Township Hall by looking at development one instance at a time. "Princeton is pretty much built-out," she said, adding that she would follow guidelines put forth in the Princeton Community Master Plan.

Ms. Bergman, a former budget and program analyst for the New Jersey State Legislature, spent three years in the Carter Administration as public affairs officer of the White House Regulatory Council.

She and her husband, Dick Bergman, currently run their own consulting company and are co-founders and board members of Community Without Walls, a not-for-profit, 450-member organization that helps senior citizens age "in place" by offering various services, including social support, information, education, and advocacy.

Several Democrats in the past have tried to draft Ms. Bergman to run for Committee. "But I've always said no," she said, adding that "this is the right time. It was something I hadn't planned on doing this year, but this is an opportunity that doesn't come along every day, or even every year." Ms. Bergman's and Mr. Miller's early declarations for candidacy do not preclude other interested individuals from making a run at these spots, said Dan Preston, municipal chair of the Princeton Township Democratic Committee. "We welcome them to the race, and look forward to working with them and any other candidates who wish to participate in our open process." Candidates from other parties have yet to announce their intentions to run.

Township Committee has been all-Democrat since January 1998 when Leonard Godfrey filled the seat previously held by Carl Mayer, an Independent. But, as Dick Bergman, who is Mr. Miller's and Ms. Bergman's campaign manager, pointed out, this eight-year all-Democratic run pales in comparison to the 118-year Republican hold on Committee that ended briefly in the 1968 elections, when Democrats Jim Floyd and Tom Hartmann were the first pair of Democrats ever to be elected to Committee together.

Committee Republicans held control through much of the 1980s under Mayor Winthrop Pike and again in the early 1990s under Mayors Richard Woodbridge and Laurence Glasberg.

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