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Trotman Expected To Be Sworn In As Mayor Tonight

Matthew Hersh

Princeton Borough Council President Mildred Trotman, who has presided over the municipal governing body since the death of Mayor Joseph O'Neill last month, is expected to be officially sworn in as mayor by the five other members of Council tonight at Borough Hall. If appointed to fill a one-year term, Ms. Trotman will become only the second female mayor of the Borough and the first black mayor in the town's history. The Borough's first female mayor was Barbara Sigmund, who served from 1984 until her death in 1990.

The October 21 death of Mr. O'Neill, a Democrat, initiated a selection process to fill his seat. On Friday, the 20-member Borough Democratic Municipal Committee headed by Councilman Andrew Koontz, chose three possible candidates for consideration by Council to succeed the late mayor.

Those chosen were Ms. Trotman, Councilman David Goldfarb, and Mark Salzman, a junior at Princeton University who also serves as the Democratic committeeman of the Borough's first voting district, which is largely composed of the University's undergraduate population.

However, after the recommendation of Ms. Trotman, the submission of Mr. Goldfarb and Mr. Salzman was mainly procedural. Ms. Trotman's name will be submitted for Council consideration with high support from the Committee, Mr. Koontz said, adding that she was the only candidate to seek support from the Committee.

That said, the Committee was still required, under statute, to submit three "real" names to Council --- three registered Democrats who live in Princeton Borough.

There are variables in the appointment process, however. If Ms. Trotman, who is seeking re-election to a three-year term on Council this year (see election story), is appointed mayor, the Democratic Committee will then be once again submitting three names to Council, this time for someone to fill her Council seat.

According to Mr. Koontz, that will be a far more rigorous process. The consensus after Mr. O'Neill's death was that Ms. Trotman was the logical successor, given her 21 years on Council and her role in filling in for Mr. O'Neill during his illness, he pointed out.

No names have yet surfaced for Ms. Trotman's seat, "but I expect that the race will be competitive," Mr. Koontz said. "I have received interest from a number of people, none of whom have gone public yet." Mr. Koontz said interested candidates should contact him at (609) 252-0264. The vacancy created by Ms. Trotman will be discussed at the Democratic Committee meeting on November 21 when interested candidates are expected to offer their pitch to Committee members.

Ms. Trotman was pleased that she would be the first black mayor in the Borough's 132 chartered history, but said that it "was the furthest thing" from her mind as she pursued the vacancy: "I did it because I thought I was qualified and wanted the transition to go as smoothly as possible. She said that while her race is "so secondary, so ancillary," the fact that she will be the first African American to serve in this capacity "does add a certain amount of excitement."

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