Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 7
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
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Former Committeewoman Runs for Office With New Name, But on a Familiar Platform

Matthew Hersh

In December 2004, Karen C. “Casey” Hegener cast her final vote on Township Committee at the end of a three-year term. It wasn’t exotic: it was just a “yea” vote for an ordinance on dog vaccinations.

At the end of that term, Ms. Hegener, who was about to be remarried, expressed a desire to spend time with her new family, though she vowed to stay involved, and received subsequent appointments to the municipal Environment Commission, and to the Flood and Stormwater Management Committee.

The draw to elective office, however, didn’t subside for long.

Now married, Casey Lambert, the former committeewoman and North Road resident, is looking to fill one of two seats up for election this fall. Ms. Lambert, a Democrat, confirmed her candidacy Monday, and by Tuesday morning, she was already eyeing an endorsement from the Princeton Committee Democratic Organization, slated for March 21.

One-term Democratic Committeewoman Vicky Bergman confirmed Monday that she would be retiring from municipal government and would not seek reelection. Two-term Democratic Deputy Mayor Bernie Miller said Tuesday that he would run for another term. At the time of Ms. Bergman’s retirement one uncontested seat remains on Committee; it is said, however, that Township resident Susan Nemeth, a Democrat, will also seek election to one of the seats. Ms. Nemeth did not immediately respond to an email request for confirmation Tuesday.

For Ms. Lambert, 67, the notion of running for office again came to mind during the recent discussion over senior housing and the prospect of development on the Princeton Ridge, environmentally sensitive terrain that has been zoned by the Township for development.

At that time an active member of the Princeton Environmental Commission, Ms. Lambert had been involved with the Campaign to Save Princeton Ridge. “I want senior housing —I simply do not want it on the Ridge,” Ms. Lambert told Town Topics Tuesday morning, pointing to potential development opportunities at the Princeton Shopping Center and the Valley Road building.

“These are not environmental, tree-hugging issues here, these are scientific issues.”

Ms. Lambert, who campaigned in opposition to the Township’s crafting of a senior housing overlay zone on two tracts along the Ridge in 2001, said she was put off by the “adversarial” tone of the most recent foray into senior housing, as Township Committee approved changes to one of the designated senior housing overlay zones off Bunn Drive to allow for residents age 55 and over, down from the previous 62-and-over designation. Committee acted in response, in part, to a concept advanced by architect J. Robert Hillier, who will likely develop 158 senior units on the site.

“I saw a lack of responsiveness in government, and it wasn’t just with the housing issue, but the Hillier project represented something else: I don’t think people felt they were being responded to.”

Pointing to other occasionally caustic relationships, such as the one involving Princeton University and Princeton Borough, Ms. Lambert called for more public dialogue. “We can talk about how our two communities can manage. We can work together and not have an adversarial relationship.”

After more than three years since letting her only Committee term lapse, Ms. Lambert emphasized that she would not require a learning curve if elected. “It’s amazing what you don’t know when you join Township Committee, and it takes a good year to get the knowledge. But this time, I would be ready at the start.”

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