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Vol. LXV, No. 42
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
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At a Recent PCDO Community Event Democratic Candidates Share Favorite Works

Anne Levin

Democratic candidates running for public office in the upcoming November 8 elections revealed their tastes in music, film, and literature Sunday evening, October 16 at an event coordinated by the Princeton Community Democratic Organization (PCDO). PCDO Candidates’ Night 2011 at the Suzanne Patterson Center gave those running for Borough, Township, County, and State seats, a chance to show a lighthearted side while delivering their individual messages.

The candidates are from the newly drawn 16th District. Princeton Borough and Township were moved from the 15th District to the 16th when district lines were redrawn earlier this year.

Audience members were given a sheet listing each candidate with a list of favorite works. The challenge of the “Candidates Favorite Matching Game” was to link each candidate with the correct book, film, or song.

“This song has been my mantra since I marched on Washington against the Vietnam war,” said Barbara Trelstad, who is running for re-election to Borough Council, about the Bob Dylan song “The Times They Are A’Changin.” Yina Moore, running for mayor of Princeton Borough against Republican Jill Jachera, chose the book The Speech by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders. “It’s about the interest of normal, regular people on the street who need a helping hand, but more importantly, need a fair chance,” she said.

Ms. Moore also sang a verse of the song “I Will Survive” with her own lyrics about Ms. Jachera. The song began, “First I was afraid, I was petrified, kept thinking I could never live in this town with you next door, but I spent so many nights thinking how you did my children wrong, I grew strong, I learned how to carry on.”

When she learned of the lyrics, Mr. Jachera called the song “offensive, petty, and divisive.”

“This is someone who is running for office, who wants to be a leader in our community,” she said. “If you want to attack my campaign, or me, based upon the issues and my experience, do that. But this kind of thing makes a mockery of it all. This is a serious campaign and I’m a serious candidate, and I would never stoop to that level.”

Heather Howard, running for Borough Council, cited the film The Shawshank Redemption as best representing her views. “It’s about justice and resilience,” she said. Sue Nemeth, candidate for re-election to Township Committee, chose the Phil Ochs song, “There But For Fortune,” recalling her days as an activist. Her colleague Bernie Miller, also up for Township Committee, sang a verse of the Woody Guthrie ballad “This Land is Your Land,” followed by a verse of his own.

“I was happy to sing the original song up until five years ago, when I wrote another verse, which is “As I stood there hungry, I stood there asking … Who stole this land from you and me?,” Mr. Miller said. “I want to turn it around, bring it back to where it was.”

Maureen Vella, running for State Senate, said the Cat Stevens song “Peace Train” represents her core values. “It was a sign of the times back in the 1970s, and is a sign of the times again today,” she said, promoting her experience as an attorney specializing in family law. “I’m a mediator. I know how to resolve conflicts.” State Assembly candidates Marie Corfield and Joe Camarota chose the book To Kill a Mockingbird and the film It’s a Wonderful Life, respectively, as best representing their individual views.

Brian Hughes, running for re-election as Mercer County Executive, chose John LeCarre’s The Honorable Schoolboy as his favorite book. “It’s about someone striving to do what he thinks is right,” he said, citing his administration’s lowering of taxes and creating construction jobs during the past few years. Mr. Hughes also made reference to his 22 years of sobriety. “I’ve been through the wringer and I have empathy for those in need of treatment,” he said.

Freeholders John Cimino and Sam Frisby cited the film Rocky and the book The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, respectively, as their favorites. Acting Sheriff Jack Kemler, up for election as sheriff, cited the Howard Blum book Gangland, while Diane Gerofsky, up for re-election as surrogate, made the film Black Swan her choice.

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