Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 22
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
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Two Candidates in Mayoral Primary Discuss Their Positions on the Issues

Anne Levin

After voters decide between Democratic candidates David Goldfarb and Yina Moore as the party’s nominee for Borough mayor on Monday, June 6, the winner will run as the endorsed Democratic candidate in the November general election.

Due to a split of votes in what was originally a three-candidate race, the Princeton Community Democratic Organization could not endorse any candidate for the primary election at its April meeting. Mr. Goldfarb fell short of the needed number of votes for endorsement. He received more than 40 percent of the votes, so the PCDO granted him a recommendation. His name will appear on the ballot without the official PCDO endorsement or slogan.

Mr. Goldfarb and Ms. Moore spoke to Town Topics (Ms. Moore by e-mail) about their platforms on issues key to the future of the Borough.

David Goldfarb

Consolidation is among the most controversial issues to residents of both the Borough and the Township. For Mr. Goldfarb, who is a member of Borough Council and the Joint Consolidation/Shared Services Study Commission, it is complex. There are three different decision points, he said.

“I will make a decision as a member of the Commission. If there is a recommendation for consolidation, I’ll make another decision as a member of a governing body. And if they both recommend that ballot decisions appear this fall, I will make a decision as a voter like everybody else. I don’t necessarily believe those three decisions should be the same,” Mr. Goldfarb said.

“I think there is a case to be made for consolidation,” he continued. “It is at least a good enough case so I believe the question should be presented to the voters. People feel strongly and they should have the opportunity, if the recommendation is fair — and we’re getting close — in its analysis of the benefits and the drawbacks. I would recommend that it be presented to the governing bodies, which is the next step.”

The Commission voted last Wednesday to recommend consolidation, with Mr. Goldfarb casting the only dissenting vote.

“I didn’t vote for the motion because it was making a recommendation to consolidate, which I thought went beyond the scope of the issue,” he said. “We didn’t consider whether it was preferable to remaining separate. We didn’t consider many of the issues raised. So I didn’t think the commission was in a position to recommend consolidation fairly. By the time we vote in November, though, all of these issues will have been aired extensively and people will be able to make an informed decision.”

As an attorney with the law firm Drinker Biddle & Reath, which represents Princeton University on land-use issues including the Arts and Transit Neighborhood zoning ordinance, Mr. Goldfarb has recused himself from all of Borough Council’s discussions and votes on the ordinance. It has been suggested by some that his employment with the firm creates a conflict that should keep him out of the race.

“This is a company town, and it’s difficult to find anyone without some ties to the university,” Mr. Goldfarb responded. “Marvin Reed and Barbara Sigmund (former mayors) had ties because their spouses were at the university. That’s a different kind of relationship where there might be a requirement to be recused. My relationship is different. I don’t feel obligated to recuse myself on every issue involving the university. I don’t believe it is an obstacle to being effective either as mayor generally, or as mayor dealing with issues that don’t involve land use applications, and these other issues are many and diverse.”

As for the future of the Dinky, Mr. Goldfarb does not agree with those who say allowing the moving of the station would ensure its continued existence. “Leaving aside the arts and transit proposal itself, moving the Dinky is not an enhancement,” he said. “In terms of where it is located, it is somewhat hidden. In terms of additional distance from town, it is a serious diminution of the importance of the Dinky in our transportation scheme, and it may have consequences.

“Money is money and the state is aware that sources of funding are limited and liabilities are huge. They are going to have to look everywhere to prioritize their spending. The Northeast Corridor will be there for the long term, and it will always be important for people in Princeton to get to the Northeast Corridor. We should keep our minds open on the best ways of achieving that goal.”

As to the issue of diversity, Mr. Goldfarb believes that Princeton is “an amazingly diverse town in almost every respect except for economic diversity, where we are experiencing a rapid loss. We have provided affordable housing and we have, by any standard, a significant number of residents who are poor. But we are lacking significant representation in income distribution in categories between the poorest and what is generally regarded as wealthy: tradespeople, young people beginning careers, people just starting out. Those categories of residents over my life in Princeton, which goes back to 1963, has largely disappeared. And we’ve lost something important as a result.”

Why should people vote for Mr. Goldfarb?

“The tasks facing the next mayor will depend, to a significant degree, on what happens with consolidation,” he said. “The odds are greater that we will vote in favor. And I believe I am well suited, having been on the consolidation committee, on Borough Council for 20 years, and involved in a number of issues, to do the job.”

Yina Moore

Ms. Moore’s family has lived in Princeton for more than 100 years. A 1979 graduate of Princeton University, she has been a Princeton resident for the last 16 years and has served on the Regional Planning Board for the past 10 years.

On the question of consolidation, Ms. Moore has not been convinced that the idea is appropriate for Princeton. “I urge citizens to come forward to identify the mutual ground by which our communities would unite while participating in studying the effectiveness of existing and future shared services,” she said. “I would work towards defining a set of principles, shared goals and objectives that would take us beyond the hopes of marginal cost savings to an understanding for how our community will address issues of growth, the environment, and economic development.”

The recent proposal by Princeton alumnus Henry Posner III to purchase the Dinky in a joint venture is one that Ms. Moore supports. “What I like about this proposal is that it is not just a temporary fix,” she said. “It establishes a framework and the groundwork, so to speak, for the Borough to seriously consider a plan for a long-term solution to ensuring quality rail service to the Northeast Corridor … Mr. Posner’s proposal of a public-private partnership presents a means by which the Borough can use its authority to act in the interest of the entire community by protecting a public asset while guarding against the threats of private interests.”

As to Princeton University’s proposed arts complex, Ms. Moore is interested in seeing details that have not yet been provided. “Frankly, based on the information the public has seen, the level of what has been provided by the University (a small-scaled site plan and an architect’s perspective) does not allow for a thorough review of the proposed development,” she said. “Understand that, there has not been a formal application in the five years the University has tried to ‘promote’ the project.”

Ms. Moore would like to see detailed drawings, background information and data, an updated traffic analysis, and how all would affect the community’s infrastructure. Application fees and escrow payments would be required to fund the thorough planning board analysis. “… I am not sure that the site plan, building designs, traffic reconfigurations or the land uses serve the community’s interests of whether the resulting development, in its totality, along Alexander Street is the preferred character for one of our community’s gateways.”

Ms. Moore’s status as a Princeton University alumna gives her special access to the university community that would serve her well as mayor, she said. “Unlike others, I do have a broader sense of the interests of the institution, and this is not limited to our community’s focus on land development. I also know that if the University wants to do something, they find the capability to do it.

She marched this past weekend in the P-rade with her class, carrying a “Yina Moore for Mayor of Princeton” sign customized to include “A Better Gown to Town, A Better Town for Gown.” “We need to work together to ensure a healthy balance exists and that the University understands that for our taxpayers to carry a burden that cannot be sustained, it threatens our ability to preserve the same type of diversity the University is much applauded for achieving,” she said.

Diversity in the Princeton community is threatened by an imbalance of non-taxed properties, Ms. Moore believes. “I was actively engaged as a Planning Board member, in zoning revisions that helped to stave off the upscaling of neighborhoods and the McMansioning of our housing stock in the tree streets, the Witherspoon Jackson neighborhood, and in the western section,” she said. “It is clear that much more needs to be done. Form-based zoning and historic designations are some of the techniques that preserve the character of neighborhoods and that stability can thwart speculators and rising anticipatory assessments in a revaluation process.”

Ms. Moore said her years of experience volunteering in Princeton, as well as her years on the Regional Planning Board and professional work in other parts of the country qualify her to lead the Borough as mayor. She is a person of vision, she said. “I am comfortable in knowing when to step back and allow the process of building consensus to flourish. I recognize that the limits of our financial resources can be supplanted by engendering a spirit of citizen collaboration in creative ways. I bring a new spirit and a new type of leadership … Lastly, but certainly not least, I will be able to fully engage in shaping our community’s agenda, deliberating on all issues, and voting on all matters without a conflict of interest.”

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