Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 18
 
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
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Political Greenhorn Promises Business Acumen at Borough Hall

Matthew Hersh

The following is the second part in a two-part series on the 2007 Democratic mayoral primary campaign. Incumbent Mayor Mildred Trotman was profiled in the April 25 Town Topics.

On several Tuesdays between November and March, Kim Pimley could be seen sitting near the rear of Council chambers at Borough Hall taking copious notes while assuming a straight face to mask her impression of the decision-making of the governing body she hopes to change.

That was Ms. Pimley, the private citizen, Library Place resident, and opponent of a proposed historic designation of an approximate 70-house swath in the Borough's western section. Now, Ms. Pimley, the candidate, does not dwell so much on her recent foray into local politics prior to running for mayor, but does use the experience as something of a philosophical cornerstone for her brief campaign, launched only three weeks ago.

"The whole thing showed me how a few citizens with an agenda of their own could pull the entire Borough Council off agenda," she said, referring to the proponents of the proposed designation.

And while Ms. Pimley, a Democrat running on the Democrats for Change ticket against incumbent Mayor Mildred Trotman, has not mentioned historic designation as an outright motive for her candidacy, it helped convince a group of supporters to effectively draft her into the race, with the news of her candidacy leaking while she was in New Zealand, a day ahead of the rest of the world.

The day she returned, road-weary and jet-lagged, Ms. Pimley, 47, emphasized a "love for my party," but pointed to a disservice to voters by "not offering a choice.

"People can make a decision," she said, expressing unqualified admiration for Ms. Trotman, whom Ms. Pimley has supported in the past, in addition to playing an active role in the Princeton Community Democratic Organization. "If she wins, then her mandate is strengthened, and if I win, then we find out that maybe we needed to go a different way."

Ms. Pimley's mild affect does not conceal her commitment to local issues, including the role of government in matters like historic designation. Her main criticism of Borough Council is the governing body's loquaciousness, and, she said, an inability to stay on point.

"Everybody has their mind on a favorite issue that is affecting his or her life, and it's interesting to hear it from all sides — it's part of the artistry of being a good servant.

"But there is a need for strategic planning, and Council is there to complete the business at hand," she said. "If historic designation were an important point, then it should have been planned with strategic purpose.

"Openness at meetings is great, but that's all it becomes if you don't have a larger agenda," she said.

———

Ms. Pimley's business side is evident. A co-founder of Pimley & Pimley Inc., the commercial and investment banking training consultant firm she runs with her husband, Michael, she admits that politics and business are different, but frequently entertains the notions of business-shaped politics.

"I do know that government runs much differently than a business, but it doesn't mean that you don't aim for and get results: that's my life," she said. "Sure, I'll need to learn some stuff, but I'm not exactly a neophyte and I've certainly been around enough to know what's going on."

On the issues, Ms. Pimley hopes to implement the same business sense if she is elected. "It's hard to make decisions, I know, and not everyone is going to be pleased, but I feel that in fairness to everybody, once you've planned a discussion, set a procedure, and move on. There needs to be a rhythm to these things."

Ms. Pimley specifically pointed to the naming process of the plaza next to the library. While Borough Council did last Tuesday decide to name the plaza the Albert E. Hinds Community Plaza, the process that led up to the naming was, in Ms. Pimley's observation, flawed.

"There were ways to move it along by saying first 'This is what we want to achieve by naming the plaza'. I feel like, as a Council, decide that first and then let the public offer input.

"If they had already established criteria, Council could have already said what it wanted to do. This is just one example, but it's taken a lot of everybody's time.

"There is a difference between setting the agenda and strategizing and just reacting to what happens to be coming up."

Ms. Pimley said the same approach could be taken when dealing with Princeton University and Princeton Township. "I sometimes feel that they are denigrated or used as a scapegoat, but let's face it, we're sharing this town, and it's to everybody's benefit to work with them."

And from the start of her campaign, Ms. Pimley has urged that the Borough find a way to fast track a troubled downtown redevelopment project that is nearing a project lag of about three years due largely to developer contractor disputes, and structural issues concerning the Spring Street municipal garage.

All the while, however, Ms. Pimley rides a fine line between being openly critical, and paying respect to the current Borough government, and with the local Democratic Party organization, which endorsed Ms. Trotman in March.

"I hope nobody is upset because I think I'm doing it for all the right reasons. I don't mean any disrespect, but this is the only way we can offer the town a choice, 'cause I don't hear of any Republicans running for mayor."

And while some known Republicans were sighted at her campaign launch at Borough Hall last month, she remains unabashedly Democrat — another benefit, she said with a smile, of the mayoral race being ostensibly decided in the primary arena: "To me, it's a win-win, because the mayor is going to be a Democrat, right? So what's the problem?"

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