Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 25
 
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
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Republicans Miles and Duncan Aiming For Two Township Committee Seats in Fall

Ellen Gilbert

It’s official: Doug Miles and Stuart Duncan will be on the November ballot as Republican candidates for the two available Township Committee seats. The pair, who each received over 65 write-in votes in this Spring’s primary election, recently returned from doing the paperwork in Trenton that ensures their respective candidacies.

“We were sworn in and received these incredibly official looking certificates,” joked Mr. Duncan at a recent interview. “We don’t intend to run, though,” he added. “We intend to stride.”

The two Republican candidates will be “striding” against Democratic incumbents Lance Liverman and Liz Lempert. Believing that “there will be a more effective discourse if there’s two of us,” Messrs. Miles and Duncan are presenting themselves as a team, working to “get the voters’ attention” through YouTube spots and other media coverage.

“What’s important is that Stu and I, who have been around for awhile, see things that come not out of a party orientation, but from life experiences that suggest there’s room for new ideas,” said Mr. Miles.

“I’m really an Independent,” observed Mr. Duncan, a former theater critic for the Princeton Packet. “I’ve lived in both the Township and the Borough, and I’m pleased that they’re looking at consolidation. The Township has the pluses; when I lived in the Borough I was all for consolidation.”

Mr. Miles’s view on consolidation is a measured one. “There may have been a time when all this was more affordable, but things are different now and we need to address financial concerns. The voters and the government know this. I’m for shared services, but we shouldn’t just blatantly eliminate one department or another.”

“I certainly want to take a look at the budget, and find out what some of the figures mean,” reported Mr. Miles, who is the Chairman and CEO of GPE, Inc., an information and data services provider.

“It’s not that I think anyone’s done anything badly,” said Mr. Duncan, recalling a time when there were “no Democrats around. Barbara Sigmund changed all that, and now there are no Republicans around. We need both.”

Mr. Miles noted that “in other towns the school budget is mailed to you, and everyone is forced to look at it. That sort of thing empowers citizens: they can call up and say ‘why are we spending “x” on this program?’” With that in mind, Mr. Miles reported that he “didn’t vote to support this year’s school budget. I would have liked to know what I was supporting.”

“I also believe that Governor Christie is doing the stuff that somebody had to do. Corzine was a finance guy, but he missed the opportunity,” Mr. Miles added. “Governor Christie is taking care of the sins of the past. The unfunded pension liability of the state is equal to the outstanding debt of Greece, and the fact that it was allowed to get this bad is outrageous.”

Mr. Miles cited the Princeton Charter School (PCS), which both of his children have attended, as an example of the kind of “innovation and imagination that should kick in” as a result of budget cuts to district schools.

Mr. Duncan, whose mother was a public school teacher for some 40 years, is also a charter school proponent, “I saw the number of hours she put in,” he observed, concurring with Mr. Miles’s description of the dedication and collaboration in evidence at PCS.

Mr. Duncan, who attended Princeton University, called the question of more financial support from the University “a tough one that applies more to the Borough than the Township. The Borough must be scared to death any time they see a new building being handed over to the University. I agree with the argument that the University contributes ‘panache’ to the community. The summer audience is particularly large because of the University; you used to be able to sit in the middle of Nassau Street during the summer and not see a car.”

“The challenge is that major universities in other cities have a bigger stake in their respective communities,” added Mr. Miles. “The last figures I’ve seen are that the University is still giving under $1 million to the Borough, and nothing to the Township. This needs updating, but an outright property tax may not be the answer.”

Both candidates were similarly cautious about supporting major changes at the Community Park Pool. “The Recreation Department is great, but I don’t think the voters understand what the issues are,” observed Mr. Miles. “I don’t think enough information about the degradation of the pool has been imparted to the public. Is there a less expensive way to do it?”

Regarding the recent prolonged argument about whether or not the Westerly Road Church should be allowed to construct a new facility on Princeton Ridge, Mr. Miles said “I don’t understand why it was so difficult. Is it zoning or planning issues?”

A story about Republican candidates for Borough Council Peter Marks and Roland Miller will run in the June 30 issue of Town Topics. 

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