Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 1
Happy New Year!
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
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Chad Goerner Is New Township Mayor

Ellen Gilbert

Chad Goerner and Sue Nemeth were sworn in as Mayor and Deputy Mayor at Township Committee’s reorganization meeting on Sunday, January 2.

Mr. Goerner replaces Bernie Miller, who stepped down after serving a two-year term, and Ms. Nemeth takes Mr. Goerner’s place as deputy mayor. They were voted into office by their colleagues on Township Committee.

Committee members Liz Lempert and Lance Liverman, who were re-elected in the general election last November, were also sworn in on Sunday.

The main meeting room in Township Hall was filled to capacity with families and friends of the newly elected and reelected officials, as each spoke of the Committee’s past accomplishments and their hopes for the future.

One of Mr. Goerner’s first announcements as mayor was news of a $500,000 allocation from Princeton University to the Township for 2011. He noted that this is a voluntary, one-time allocation, that may or may not be followed either by similar infusions of money from year to year, or as an ongoing “fair share” arrangement over time.

In her Invocation, Rabbi Donna Kirshbaum of Congregation String of Pearls called on “the holy one” to “give wisdom to those who lead others in this unique corner of the wide world.” She expressed the hope that they would be inspired with creativity, filled with compassion, and educated in the ways of justice, while they “work with zeal, humanity, and humor” toward the common goal of “the ennoblement of life on earth.”

Nominating Mr. Goerner as mayor, Ms. Lempert noted that as deputy mayor he had been instrumental in representing the Township on issues such as consolidation, efforts to negotiate a “fair share” role with the University, and in the creation of the Financial Advisory Committee.

Mr. Goerner cited Ms. Nemeth’s “refreshing ability to be direct and cut to the heart of an issue” in his nomination of her as deputy mayor. “She will go to the mat for what she believes,” said Ms. Lempert as she seconded the nomination. “The people of Princeton are lucky to have her.” 

“There are lots of looming questions as we head into the new year,” said Mr. Goerner in his remarks. He described concerns about the effect of a shifting housing environment on the diversity of the Princeton community; the disposition of the hospital site; questions concerning the proposed arts/transit complex; the issue of whether consolidation will come to fruition; and the outcome of discussions regarding the future of Community Park Pool.

The pool was also on the minds of other Committee members. Describing it as “among the things we hold dear in this community,” Ms. Nemeth urged Borough Council colleagues to pass the ordinance needed for the further development of pool plans.

Committee members all expressed their considerable satisfaction in working under Mr. Miller’s leadership. Mr. Liverman described Mr. Miller as “a gentleman and a leader,” while Ms. Nemeth noted the “tremendous job” he had done by “moving a very ambitious agenda forward in the past few years.” She also thanked Mr. Miller for encouraging “collaboration and power sharing” among all the members of Township Committee during his tenure. “He used his leadership to foster an atmosphere of active communication,” added Ms. Lempert.

“I’m having a John Boehner moment,” joked Mr. Miller as he wiped a tear from eyes. He described it as “an honor” to have been mayor. “We have worked hard on behalf of the residents of the Township, and many times, on behalf of all Princeton residents,” he noted. Indeed, he described Princeton as “one community” with “one downtown,” and noted that it is “up to us and our colleagues on Borough Council to recognize that.”

Mr. Goerner also reflected on the possibility that consolidation may be a referendum item in the next November election. “While it’s not clear whether it will pass, what is clear is that we are connected, and we do share common bonds,” observed Mr. Goerner. He noted that the two municipalities already have 13 shared services and that many area residents do not know the exact borders of each municipality. He expressed concern about an apparent “communication breakdown” with “our counterparts in the Borough” in the 14 years since consolidation was last attempted. “They should come forward,” he said. “When we don’t work together we fail constituencies in both municipalities.”

Referencing David Bowie, Mr. Goerner concluded by saying that “I may not always know where I’m going, but I promise you it won’t be boring.”

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