Residents Announce Intent to Run for Seat On Borough Council
Borough residents Mark Freda and Anne Waldron Neumann recently announced their intent to run for a seat on Borough Council in the June Primary. Council members Andrew Koontz and Roger Martindell are both up for re-election in November, which leaves two Council seats open for contenders.
All four candidates will be seeking endorsement from the Princeton Community Democratic Organization at its meet-the-candidates night on Sunday, March 28, at the Suzanne Patterson Senior Center. PCDO will pick two candidates to endorse for the June Primary.
Candidates agreed that the top priority right now in the Borough is finding ways to lower the tax burden on residents forecast for 2004.
The Borough's finance committee has predicted a $22 million budget for 2004, compared to $19.4 million in 2003. Currently, the finance committee is looking to hike taxes 14 cents per $100 of assessed valuation of municipal land owned by Borough residents.
Mr. Freda said the Council needs more financial management, which he would like to provide if elected to the Borough Council.
"Last year the Borough used too much of its reserves to lower the tax rate," said Mr. Freda. "This year without a cushion there's going to be a substantial increase that will hurt taxpayers."
Mr. Koontz said his "number one priority is to bring the budget down." He added, "The tax increase [for 2004] is still unacceptable."
Remaining committed to finding affordable housing in the Borough, and encouraging Princeton Future's task force to work towards a resolution concerning the Arts Council building were also priorities mentioned by Mr. Koontz.
Mr. Koontz officially kicked off his campaign for re-election on March 17, announcing the formation of a campaign committee and the launching of his campaign website, www.koontzforcouncil.com.
"I am very proud to serve the people of Princeton Borough as a Council member, and I have enjoyed the opportunity to listen to and work with the people of this wonderful community," said Mr. Koontz. "That is why I am seeking election to a full term this year."
Mr. Koontz was appointed to his position in January, filling out the duration of Mayor Joseph O'Neill's seat on Council. He said he intends to run a grassroots campaign.
"I will be walking door-to-door, and meeting with voters at neighborhood coffees," said the Councilman.
Mr. Koontz is an 11-year resident of the Borough, who has served as the chair of the Princeton Borough Democratic Committee since 1997. He is also a past president of PCDO, serving from 2001 through January 2004. He currently works as a television editor for CBS New Productions in New York.
Mr. Freda is a lifelong Borough resident, who served on Borough Council from 1986 to 1999, and as Council president five times. Mr. Freda has been an active member of the public, participating in both Borough Council and Princeton Regional School Board meetings. He has two children in the Princeton Regional Schools.
Currently the vice president of expense management and administration at Goldman Sachs & Co., Mr. Freda has been a member of the Princeton Fire Department and the Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad since the mid-1970s.
Mr. Freda said he wants to run for Council again to "put a perspective back on Council that is missing. There's a voice that represents the way the majority of residents think and want and I don't think its always present in Council meetings."
Mr. Freda said that Council held private meetings to discuss the downtown redevelopment project and the Palmer Square housing agreement, and did not approach the public until it had already made up its mind about what to do.
"I am willing to listen and I am able to change my mind when shown things I may not have considered," said Mr. Freda. "I will state the views that Borough residents want stated and I will ask the questions that many Borough residents want asked."
Anne Waldron Neumann
Ms. Neumann moved to the Borough from Australia four years ago, and has lived in several different countries, including England, Germany, and Denmark. She is originally from the Borough, where her father served as municipal treasurer.
Ms. Neumann has a doctorate in English literature from the Johns Hopkins University, and teaches writing at the Arts Council and the Princeton Adult School. She has also served on Princeton Future's Community-Based Neighborhood Retail Initiative, which supports the interests of independent businesses in town. In December she organized the All Hands Gallery, a cooperative gallery of local artists in Palmer Square to sell holiday gifts.
Ms. Neumann said she would like to run for Council to "bring a fresh perspective to the work of Borough Council."
She listed her main concerns to be the growing municipal budget, tax increases, finding affordable housing in the Borough, and ways in which to enhance downtown retail stores so that they benefit residents, and not just visitors.
One method she suggested to decrease budget costs would be to consolidate Township and Borough police departments, thus cutting down on the number of police salaries for which the Borough is responsible.
A member of Borough Council since 1989, Mr. Martindell currently serves as the Borough's finance committee chairman. A third-generation Princetonian, he is a self-employed lawyer in town. Mr. Martindell has been involved in various community groups, including the Civil Rights Commission, PCDO, and Princeton's United Way.
Mr. Martindell said he'd like to continue on Council because, "I love the work, and there are a number of projects I'd like to finish."
Some of these projects include finding ways to get large, non-profit landowners like Princeton University to contribute more money to the Borough, keeping a small town feel in the Borough, and providing more affordable housing for residents.
In December, Mr. Koontz, Mr. Freda, and Ms. Neumann went head-to-head during a public forum sponsored by the Princeton Democratic Committee to determine which candidates would be presented to Borough Council to fill out Mayor O'Neill's term on Council.
Mr. Koontz was voted onto Council by members Peggy Karcher and Roger Martindell, and Council President Mildred Trotman. Mr. Freda received votes from David Goldfarb and Wendy Benchley.
Candidates who voted for Mr. Koontz said they were looking to "bring new blood to Council," putting greater value on freshness than experience, which Mr. Freda would have brought to the table.
The June Primary is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, June 8. Currently no Republican candidates have come forward.