March 7, 2012

Kevin Wilkes Is a Candidate for Mayor, Nine Candidates for Council Announced

With Borough Council member Kevin Wilkes announcing his candidacy for mayor and several residents stating their intention to run for the six Council seats that will become available once the Borough and Township consolidate on January 1, 2013, Princeton’s future political landscape is beginning to take shape. Township Committee member Liz Lempert declared her own candidacy for mayor in recent weeks, while newcomer Tamera Mateo officially entered the contest for the Council last week.

Others up for Council seats so far include Township Committee members Lance Liverman and Bernie Miller, and Borough Council members Heather Howard, Jo Butler, Jenny Crumiller, and Roger Martindell. In addition to Ms. Mateo, those running who are not current members of the governing bodies are Patrick Simon, who serves on the Princeton Join Consolidation/Shared Services Study Commission, and Scott Sillars, who is vice-chairman of the Transition Task Force.

Those interested in running for mayor or Council who seek the endorsement of the Princeton Community Democratic Organization (PCDO) have until Sunday, March 11, says PCDO president Dan Preston. “We certainly want people to understand that as far as party endorsement goes, they need to be out by Sunday. And if they want to vote on the endorsements, they have to be a Democrat residing in Princeton who has joined the PCDO by Sunday.”

Mr. Wilkes has been a member of Borough Council since 2008. Since then, he has served as its president, police commissioner, finance committee member, and as liaison to the traffic and transportation committee, human services commission, recreation board, and sewer operating committee. He was Princeton Township’s building inspector from 1991 to 1994. A graduate of Princeton and Yale universities, he is an architect and builder.

Asked how he would balance the demands of his business, Princeton Design Guild, with the task of being the first mayor of the combined Princetons, Mr. Wilkes said he is confident it could be done, especially since he is his own boss.

“There’s no doubt it would be time-consuming,” he said. “But I’ve thought a lot about how it would work. I would pick two days a week to do mayor, and four to devote to the business. I would try to have Sundays off. But I actually think that once we get beyond the immediate repositioning of consolidation, having one governing body meeting instead of two, it certainly shouldn’t take any more time than it does now.”

As mayor, Mr. Wilkes would focus on streamlining municipal expenses and easing the tax burden for residents, while making government more efficient.

Mr. Wilkes credits his talent as a good listener as an important qualification for the post. “I have an ability to listen to multiple visions and multiple voices,” he said. “I speak Ivy League and blue collar. I have professional clients and laborers who are immigrants, and I’m fluent in Spanish. I have an ability to assimilate different conversations. We’re not a homogeneous town. I can listen and understand many points of view, and I have a skill set in leading projects to completion.”