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Vol. LXV, No. 44
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
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Democrat Yina Moore Cites Civic Experience In Borough Mayor Race

Anne Levin

The Princeton of Yina Moore’s youth was a close-knit community that helped shape her vision for its future. Descended from a family that has lived in the Borough for more than a century, she attended Princeton public schools and graduated from Princeton University. Her father ran a transportation business in town until the early 1990’s.

“There was a strong communal commitment to each other, no matter what walk of life you may have come from,” she recalled in an interview this week. “Given the population, you knew everyone. There weren’t divisive or distinct class lines, though there was definitely class in terms of whom you might know.”

The question of economic diversity has figured prominently in the campaign of Ms. Moore, a Democrat, for the office of Princeton Borough mayor. Since her youth, the need for affordable housing has become a major issue. “I have heard my opponent say that not everyone can live in Princeton,” she said. “I’m not sure if that means we’re going to an exclusive set of rules and make this an enclave for the wealthy. But they find themselves busing in and driving in labor to do all of the things they want to be served with in terms of childcare, lawn care, house cleaning, and all of that. That’s not what Princeton has ever been. Everyone lived here together. It was not an exclusive enclave.”

Yet Princeton is still “pretty democratic, and democratic principles have not waned,” she said. “There are different political views, and different financial motivations, and we are seeing some of the ramifications of that. But I think part of what people like most about Princeton is that social makeup and sense of community really is what’s most valuable.”

Currently in her third term on Princeton’s Planning Board, Ms. Moore chaired its Zoning Amendment Review Committee and currently chairs its Circulation Subcommittee. She has served on the boards of several education, public health and other civic organizations. “I understand the intricacies and the generalities of planning in regard to budget, revenues, and the environment,” she said. “It has always been integral in the way I’ve pursued my role, and more importantly how it impacts the community in its social health and resources.”

Choosing not to offer a position on consolidation, Ms. Moore leaves it to voters to make up their own minds. “It is each voter’s decision,” she said. “As we all come to make decisions, we do it differently. Some decisions come from your heart, others come from your mind. Some use a combination of both. But I do think that in either case, it’s important that people do as much research coming from various sources and get the kinds of questions they feel need to be answered to their level of satisfaction.

“There is still more information being gathered as we speak,” she continued. “The focus for me is the Borough, whether there is consolidation or not. I know the concerns of those who are clearly against it, and understand the hopes and aspirations of those who are pro-consolidation. My role will be to consider both. I think we might all want the same thing. But whether it is achievable depends on moving forward beyond the decision.”

Creating more housing in the Borough for senior citizens to age in place is among Ms. Moore’s goals. “I have always been concerned about seniors, some of whom have had to leave town in order to get housing that is more manageable and suitable,” she said. “Why is it that senior citizens have to go to remote places to live in the kinds of facilities they want?” Though developments like Elm Court, where Ms. Moore’s mother lived, are in town, there should be more options, she believes. “We need to look closer in, perhaps at a model that is different,” she said. “From the Borough’s perspective, we need to try to find ways to do this right in the center of town. I was advocating for this in the hospital zone, which would have been a perfect location.”

If elected, Ms. Moore would begin her term as mayor by examining the budget. “Whether consolidation passes or not, I’m interested in looking at our budget and how we’ve managed and how we’ve spent, and the shared services we already have,” she said. “We need to pay a little more attention to sources of savings, because maybe there is more to save.

“There is a long list of issues that citizens are concerned with beyond consolidation, such as issues of taxation and revenue,” she continued. “I want to begin immediately to look at different ways we have for raising revenues from our largest landowners [Princeton University] and how they can not only participate and understand the impact they impose on the community and how that relates to our need for greater support. It’s amazing how we’ve been able to survive with so little.”

Ms. Moore would address the issue of parking in the downtown commercial district. “I would look at coordinating shared parking, and how to find more parking for tenants who are shopkeepers, and ways their businesses can grow without dependency on front door parking,” she said. “The Borough could help, because certainly their revenues impact our revenues. But you can’t necessarily build a garage to have more people come into town. You have to look at creative ways to do it.”

Ms. Moore invites anyone with questions to join her and Democratic Borough Council candidates Barbara Trelstad and Heather Howard at a special breakfast on Saturday, November 5 at 9:30 a.m., at 187 Library Place, the home of Borough Council member Jenny Crumiller.

“I would love for people to recognize my long record of achievements,” she said. “The Borough affects many people, including visitors. From my first foray, which was the design of my daughter’s playground at Community Park School, to issues at the Arts Council and Hinds Plaza, I think we’ve done a lot. I’ve done a lot, and my record will show it.”

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