Whom to Choose? All Four Candidates For Council Receive Endorsements
and BRUCE FINNIE
and JOHN BORDEN
To the Editor:
The fiscal woes of the Borough are leading the Borough Council to new heights of political sophistry, as exemplified by its argument that Borough residents should pay school taxes in proportion to the number of Borough children enrolled in our joint school system (Town Topics, May 19). The logical extension of this argument is that only those families with children in the school system should pay school taxes, or that families with two children in school should pay double the tax of those with one. After all, if proportionality should be applied between the two municipalities, why shouldn't it also be applied among taxpayers within each municipality?
We have historically applied the same school tax rate to all homes in a community because we recognize that education is a universal public good that benefits all members of society, both current and future. Because we have a joint school district, Borough Council believes this principle of equal taxation creates a disparity in the percent of school taxes paid by Borough residents as compared to Township residents. But the indirect result of the Borough's proposal would result in a disparity that would in effect place more of the tax burden on families with children in school than those without.
Of course, the underlying issue is the State's inability to develop a system of taxation that would reduce our need to fund schools through an inequitable and regressive property tax and thereby provide property tax relief to all residents.
To the Editor:
A special thank you to all who participated in making the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Princeton Ballet School and the 25th Anniversary of American Repertory Ballet such a success. On May 1, McCarter Theater was filled with alumni of the school, former professional dancers, directors, staff, teachers, families and friends, many traveling a distance to be with us. Artistic director Graham Lustig created the evening performance mixing the past with the present, while featuring the school, professional company and educational outreach programs, along with the induction of eight illustrious alums into our Wall of Fame.
Thanks to the many volunteers who helped make it a special night; to the community businesses that donated food for the reception and picture frames for the retrospective exhibitions; and to the many merchants in town who hung posters in their windows and distributed information. And thanks to all who participated in the evening's program and those in the audience.
We are proud to have chaired such a milestone event, and are grateful to everyone who has been involved in any way with Princeton Ballet School and American Repertory Ballet. We are also proud that this community embraces our cultural heritage and supports its continued future journey.
A very special "thank you" to all.
To the Editor:
On Saturday, May 15, SAVE, Princeton's Animal Shelter, held its fourth annual benefit, Wagtime...Ragtime. This event raised more than $70,000 to help the homeless cats and dogs of SAVE. This could not have been achieved without the extraordinary generosity of the many individuals and organizations that donated to SAVE in support of this event. The following are a few of the businesses that made this event a great success:
A Bit of This; Arlington Capital Mortgage Company; Ashton Whyte; Backes & Hill; Beauty Dreams; Bowhe & Peare; Bristol-Myers Squibb; ComputorTutorTed; Dahlia Floral Concepts; Deborah Leamann Interiors; Edinburg Animal Hospital; Euphorbia; Gloria Nilson; Goldman, Sachs & Co.; Hazel & Hannah's Pawtisserie; Goose & Kim Henderson; J. McLaughlin; La Terrazza; Mon Visage; Nassau Animal Hospital; One of a Kind Consignment Shop; The Pet Station; Pins & Needles; Princess Nail Salon; Princeton Nassau Conover; Betsy Sayen; Stockton Real Estate; Sumo Sushi; U.S. Trust Company; Frank Wojciechowski; Woodwinds; The Wooly Lamb.
SARA M. NICOLLS
To the Editor:
However the appeals court rules in the lawsuit against Princeton Borough by Concerned Citizens of Princeton, Princeton voters should demand that municipal officials engage in a "lessons learned" analysis of the issues raised in that lawsuit. For example:
1. Why did Borough Council assume that it had to build such a mammoth parking garage to accommodate the new public library when only 80 to 85 parking spaces were needed? The 279 spaces provided by the two lots were adequate to the task; as Mayor Reed wrote in an April 11, 1999 memo, repaving the lots was the "fallback" consensus. Moreover, additional spaces could be added at low cost and little risk without burdening taxpayers with a $13.7 million project an amount equal to more than $1,000 for every resident.
2. Why didn't Borough Council survey residents' references before gambling on this massive project? When Herb Hobler submitted a survey revealing overwhelming public opposition to the five-story parking garage and equally strong preference for continuing surface parking, the Council rejected it dismissively but refused to conduct its own survey.
3. Why didn't Borough Council know that declaring the areas "blighted" would prevent residents from having a referendum on the garage bond issue? Council members had promised garage opponents that they could petition for such a referendum. But when residents took them at their word, and collected 843 signatures of registered voters in January 2003 three times the number required to compel a referendum the Borough vetoed a referendum solely because of the prior "blight" designation. Later, when confronted with this contradiction, Council members proclaimed their ignorance of the legal bar to a referendum which they had voted.
4. Finally, is the parking garage, in fact, "self-financing" through user fees? At oral argument in the appeals court, the Borough's lawyer asserted that financing the garage depends on payments from the planned five-story apartment and commercial complex for the Tulane Street lot that was declared tax exempt. But the Borough had assured residents at the December 17, 2002 public hearing that the garage will pay for itself in user fees, as the Borough also told the state "Local Finance Board." Which is it, self-financing or dependent on the payments in lieu of taxes from another development?
These are among questions about this project and the process leading up to it that should be investigated no matter what happens with Concerned Citizens of Princeton's appeal of the Borough's veto of the promised referendum on the $13.7 million bond issue, a veto based solely on the bizarre "blight" declaration as hidden under the euphemism "area in need of redevelopment" for two parking lots that were serving the community for 40 years and producing a half-million dollars a year in Borough revenues at no risk to taxpayers.
Whom to Choose? All Four Candidates For Council Receive Endorsements
The real election for Borough Council happens on June 8. The candidates selected in the Democratic Primary will most likely be sitting on Princeton Borough Council come January 1, 2005. Voting in this primary will help decide how the Council deals with the public for years to come.
I feel that all of the four Democratic candidates are good people. However, I strongly urge Democratic voters to (a) vote in the primary and (b) choose Mark Freda as one of their two selections. He is effective and will actually get things done. He is motivated by doing what is best for the community, as illustrated by his service as a volunteer fireman. His record during his previous years as a Councilman shows that he is the best of the field and deserves our votes.
I support Roger Martindell for re-election to Borough Council because he is a tireless advocate for Borough residents.
I know Mr. Martindell as a running mate, fellow Council member, and friend. He is a fiscally responsible and socially conscious public servant. On the fiscal side, he not only protects Borough taxpayers by fighting wasteful spending and exploring alternative revenue sources, he also saves the Borough countless dollars by reading the fine print of municipal contracts and service agreements. His attention to detail and legal training often illuminate issues that help the Borough dodge major financial headaches.
On the social side, he relentlessly advocates for Princeton's most vulnerable residents. From lifelong Princetonians, who fear that skyrocketing property taxes may force them from their homes, to Princeton's newest immigrants, who confront abusive landlords and employers, Mr. Martindell offers an empowering voice and seeks meaningful solutions.
On June 8, Borough voters have an opportunity to choose a candidate who will keep Princeton a quality town for Borough residents Roger Martindell.
I am writing in support of Anne Neumann's candidacy for Borough Council. Ms. Neumann has the perspective of having grown up in the Borough and of one who has lived as far away as Australia. She is a scholar who brings new ideas to the table. She is aware that it takes a great deal of time and effort to be an effective member of Borough Council. It is indeed wonderful that we as Borough residents have four candidates willing to commit their energies to the betterment of all of us.
Creative thinking, tempered by discussion, is always an asset. We would all prosper if there were more affordable housing for seniors as well as for transient workers who come to Princeton to live and work. Ms. Neumann has proposed some new thinking on this subject. This is just one of her interesting ideas.
Please consider a vote for Ms. Neumann on June 8.
This letter urges our fellow Princeton Borough residents to vote for Andrew Koontz in the upcoming primary election. We feel that his continued service on Borough Council would be of great benefit to the community.
"The fiscal crisis" in the Borough, as he calls it, has commanded much of his attention since he joined Borough Council at the beginning of the year. As outlined in his contribution to the Candidates' Forum published recently in the local papers, he has developed a detailed approach, encompassing a series of proposals to counter the current financial situation in the Borough leading to taxpayer relief.
One of his main arguments that Borough expenditures must be reduced can contribute to a bright and fiscally sound future for Princeton.
We have a diverse community with inhabitants who contribute in many different ways: artists, teachers, volunteers, employers, and employees. All have created an attractive place in which to live and raise our children. We deserve and desire to be able to remain a part of this community, which this candidate's approach can make possible.
As a lifetime and a longtime resident, we strongly urge Princetonians to join us in voting for Andrew Koontz on June 8.
BETTY FENTON CURTISS
How refreshing and encouraging it is to see a real Democratic primary race for Princeton Borough Council, with four candidates running at once! Thanks to each of them for wanting to serve. But when we look at what we hope will happen on the Council, we see one candidate who has shown us how committed to the community and how very much in touch with community sentiment he is. He is Mark Freda. As we know from past experience, he isn't afraid to engage the public fully in Council discussions and decision processes.
We strongly urge our fellow Borough residents to vote for Mark Freda.
GINNIE and BRUCE FINNIE
I am writing in support of the candidacy of Roger Martindell for re-election to the Borough Council.
I am a lawyer in Princeton Borough specializing in mental health law and involved in both civil rights and social services issues and programs. I find Mr. Martindell to be a vocal advocate for people whose voices need to be heard by local government in these areas.
As an attorney, Mr. Martindell has defended tenants in Princeton against unscrupulous landlords and has defended workers who live in Princeton against employers who violate workers' rights to a legal wage. In the social service arena he has advocated for the delivery of translation and housing services and founded the Borough's Homeless Housing Trust Fund, which serves as an emergency fund for the homeless in town.
When proposals come before the Borough Council which implicate civil rights or social service concerns, Mr. Martindell carefully considers and articulates the potential effect of those proposals on the less powerful members of our community, those least able to access local government. Whenever I have sought support for the interests of such persons I have consistently found him to be responsive, principled, humane, and effective.
I am writing to share my thoughts on the upcoming Democratic Primary for Princeton Borough Council on June 8. My wife and I will be voting for Mark Freda.
I first met Mr. Freda when he joined the Princeton Fire Department in 1974. I have known him ever since. He was an officer in the Fire Department for 11 years, rising to the position of Chief of the Department. For an almost matching period of time he has been a member of the Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad, serving five years as president there.
Mr. Freda has lived in the Borough all his life. He has been active in many local organizations. But I think one of his best services to our community were his 13 years on Borough Council from 1986 to 1999. I, and many others, always saw him as a voice of reason on Council someone who used common sense, logic, and a lifelong knowledge of the community and its residents to resolve problems and get things done. While others talked about it, he did something about it.
I want someone on Council who really reflects my feelings and thoughts. I want someone on Council who will listen to me and make sure my view points are considered.
That is one promise that Mr. Freda makes to us, and I know it is a promise that will be kept.
During his years of service on Borough Council, Roger Martindell has consistently shown the courage to challenge assumptions, raise compelling questions, and present innovative alternatives to benefit Borough residents and taxpayers. He was the member of Council who most rigorously questioned the financing and traffic impacts of the downtown redevelopment with the premise that the taxpayers deserved a better deal than the one first offered by the developers.
In the past several years, Mr. Martindell has repeatedly sought ways to temper the unsustainable growth of the municipal budget and its alarmingly increasing burden on taxpayers. He has repeatedly pressed the University and the Seminary to contribute their fair share to support the municipal services that their students, faculty, and staff all enjoy at taxpayer expense. He has also championed a significant increase in sharing services with the Township to improve efficiency and to save money for the residents of both municipalities, particularly in the police and public works departments.
Fluent in Spanish, Mr. Martindell has assisted many of Princeton's Hispanic immigrants with legal and social issues that can be difficult for them. He has also shown leadership in working on regional issues affecting all the residents of Mercer County.
In the coming years, budget, governance, and diversity issues will be paramount in the Borough, and Mr. Martindell's experience, courage, and vision will contribute greatly to addressing these for the benefit of the residents and taxpayers.
CLIFFORD W. ZINK
I am writing in support of Andrew Koontz in the upcoming primary election on June 8 as the Democratic candidate for Princeton Borough Council.
Mr. Koontz has been a resident of Princeton Borough for almost 12 years, and has achieved a deserved reputation as a tireless worker for his constituents, evidenced during his two-year term as president of the Princeton Democratic Community Organization, during which time he was responsible for bringing more Princeton Borough and Township residents into the organization.
Since being appointed to Joe O'Neill's seat on Borough Council, Mr. Koontz has demonstrated a willingness to listen to the concerns of Princeton Borough residents. Over the next few years, Princeton Borough needs to address numerous pressing issues, not the least of which is the issue of what to do about the ever increasing property tax burden. In the short time he has served on Princeton Borough Council, Mr. Koontz has brought a fresh perspective to the budgeting process, pushing the Borough Council to pursue sound fiscal policies, such as forecasting the budget more than three years out, rather than one year at a time, so the Borough may be better at anticipating future budgetary problems.
Rather than looking to raise property taxes as the sole means to deal with Princeton Borough's budgetary problems, Andrew Koontz prefers to focus more on bringing property tax relief to Borough residents by trimming expenses and sharing services with other communities. He is focused on making Borough government run in a more effective and fiscally responsible manner. Simply, he is open to new ideas on how to bring the Borough budget and property taxes under control.
I ask that Princeton Borough residents support Andrew Koontz's candidacy for a seat on the Princeton Borough Council in the Democratic primary election on June 8.
The Democratic Primary for Princeton Borough Council is June 8. I would like to share with Borough residents why I support Mark Freda.
I have known Mr. Freda professionally and personally for the last 20 years. I have seen his business abilities at the former Commodities Corporation, now part of Goldman Sachs. His general business knowledge, his experience in facilities management and expense control, and his ability to work well with a broad spectrum of colleagues are all valuable in the public arena. And in his previous 13-year tenure on Council I saw him as an elected official who cared deeply for this community. In forming his own views he always listened to the thoughts and opinions of others, a critical ability for an elected official.
Mr. Freda's community experience is extensive. He has served consistently for 30 years on many boards and in volunteer organizations in this town. No other candidate can match his local experience. No one person can solve all our problems; but he will work hard for us, he will listen to us, and he will represent us. He should be on Borough Council.
To the Editor:
We urge Princeton Borough voters to elect Andrew Koontz to Borough Council on June 8. The present Council made a wise choice in selecting him for the Council seat vacated when Joe O'Neill became Mayor. We have appreciated working with Mr. Koontz in PCDO activities and have always found him a leader, a good listener, pragmatic, and fair-minded. He has made a point of visiting our neighborhoods, churches, and events throughout town to talk with people about his ideas and theirs.
Since his selection for Borough Council, Mr. Koontz has focused on fiscal restraint in an effort to limit the growth of property taxes. He is ready to take practical steps: multi-year budgeting to anticipate future challenges, limiting discretionary spending, and finding ways to share more expenses with county government. It is essential to strengthen our Borough Council with someone who brings a new perspective and can defend new initiatives as we face the fiscal challenges ahead.
and JOHN BORDEN
As a former member of Princeton Borough Council I would like to state my opinion on the upcoming Princeton Borough Democratic Primary.
l strongly recommend that Borough residents vote for Mark Freda. I have worked with Mr. Freda on the Borough Council, worked with him in the Princeton Fire Department, and worked with him on the Spirit of Princeton Committee. I have known him personally for many years. In all these arenas he has consistently been a leader, a doer, a voice of reason.
As a taxpayer I want someone on Borough Council who is in touch with a broad base of the community. I want someone on Borough Council who will seriously listen to me and seriously consider my viewpoint before making a decision, And most importantly I want someone on Borough Council who isn't there for political reasons. The challenges we face in Princeton Borough call for someone who will act in our best interest, free of other considerations.
Mark Freda will work for all the residents of Princeton Borough. He will treat us fairly, deal with us openly, and provide leadership that reflects the desires of our community. I hope everyone eligible to vote in the Democratic Primary on June 8 votes for Mr. Freda.
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