Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 12
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
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PCDO Endorsement Sought by Three Council Contenders

Dilshanie Perera

Two seats will be up for election on Borough Council in the November election and three candidates are currently vying for the Princeton Community Democratic Organization’s (PCDO) nod of approval that will position them in a prime location on the Democratic primary ballot in June.

Thomas Zucosky and Heather Howard have announced their candidacy and incumbent Barbara Trelstad is also running in this election cycle.

Ms. Trelstad welcomed her challengers, saying “I think it’s good we’ve got so many people interested in serving their community. I look forward to an interesting discussion on the third of April,” when the PCDO endorsement election will take place at 7:30 p.m. at the Suzanne Patterson Center.

“I am committed to making certain that a program is put in place to ensure that residents who are hit most hard by the property revaluation stay in their homes,” Ms. Trelstad declared. Her platform statement cites diversity as a key element of Princeton’s character.

Improving the relationship between the University and the community is another issue Ms. Trelstad would like to tackle in order to “enable us to work towards mutually agreeable solutions to the problems and projects that confront us.”

“A university the size of Princeton should be giving more to the community in terms of a PILOT,” she asserted, referencing the payment in lieu of taxes contribution paid yearly to the Borough.

Ms. Trelstad is advocating for a zero-percent tax increase in the municipal budget this year, as well as promoting environmental sustainability. A member of the Regional Planning Board, she looks for high standards of sustainability in development proposals.

Looking forward to the report by the Consolidation Commission, Ms. Trelstad noted that she has “been convinced for many years that consolidation will benefit both municipalities, by saving us money and allowing us greater efficiencies.

Ms. Howard is the former Commissioner of Health and Senior Services for the State of New Jersey under Governer Jon Corzine’s administration, and had previously been the Chief of Policy for Mr. Corzine as well.

Having been “involved in government all my life” and having “worked for progressive public policy all my career,” Ms. Howard said that she inspired to run for a seat on Council because she has been living in Princeton and has a second-grader at Riverside Elementary School. “I want him to grow up in a great community.”

“As a Riverside mom, I want to show my son how government can help people and make our community a better place to live,” she added.

Characterizing the present as a “key time in Princeton’s history,” Ms. Howard said she has experience managing budgets and protecting the vulnerable and that she wants to “make sure Princeton stays the welcoming place it is for families and kids.” Keeping the community affordable, sustainable, and diverse are aligned with that goal.

In her experience at the Statehouse, Ms. Howard led New Jersey’s response to the H1N1 influenza, and worked on expanding access to prenatal care, “an issue near and dear to my heart,” she said, as well as expanding access to health insurance.

Ms. Howard is currently teaching at Princeton University as a lecturer on healthcare reform and implementation. She pointed out that Wednesday the 23rd is the one-year anniversary of the healthcare law, calling it a “timely and great issue to be focusing on” with students.

“I have significant experience with the state budget and state programs and their impact on the local. I would love to take that experience and help Princeton,” Ms. Howard said.

Mr. Zucosky has been living in town for 20 years “and I’ve spent most of that time raising my family, building my business, coaching sports, running Boy Scouts, running different sports leagues, being a member of the Recreation Board, and co-founding two charities that raise money for children in recreation.”

Characterizing his involvement in the Community Park Pool project as inspiring his candidacy for a Council seat, Mr. Zucosky said he “felt there is a need for real leadership and a real vision for the future of Princeton.”

“I believe in transparency. I believe in a fair and collaborative partnership. I believe in decisive leadership,” he said. “I come from a vision of wanting to improve the quality of life for residents in Princeton Borough.”

Pointing out the tough economic climate facing the municipality, Mr. Zucosky said, “I think there are more creative and inspired ways of tackling some of these problems. One of those ways is a public-private partnership.” He pointed out that the Princeton Parks and Recreation Fund, which he co-founded, is such a venture.

“I have a long history in finance, and a great deal of skill in negotiations,” Mr. Zucosky said, characterizing the expertise acquired through his prior experience as pertinent to the responsibilities of a member of Council. “We have to operate from a base of respect.”

“I’m on the outside,” he acknowledged of his candidacy. “I”m really the everyman. I’m the resident who has raised a family in Princeton, who has been actively involved in the development of his children. I’m also the entrepreneur who has built a business from nothing … I want to raise the level of discourse in this election. If nothing else, I want to make sure all these issues are appropriately addressed and debated in front of the public.”

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