Princeton Council president Bernie Miller and former Princeton Township Committeewoman Sue Nemeth announced Monday that they plan to run together for Council in the June Democratic primary. This means three people will be vying for the seats currently held by Mr. Miller and Councilwoman Jo Butler.
Mr. Miller and Ms. Nemeth, who served on Township Committee, have the official backing of Mayor Liz Lempert and Council members Lance Liverman, both of whom also served on Township Committee; and former Borough Councilwoman Heather Howard. Ms. Butler, who was a member of Borough Council before consolidation, has been known for being outspoken and pressing for further discussion on several issues.
“There is some discord on Council. Everyone is aware of it,” Ms. Nemeth said on Tuesday. “But I respect everyone’s service. People work hard and mean well. What I bring to the table is a little bit of a different kind of sensibility. I’m an organizer from way back. I like working with people. I have a long record of successes. People will sit down with me, as they have in the past.”
Ms. Butler confirmed Tuesday that she will run again in the next election. “I think we’re a fortunate community in that we have a number of people willing to commit themselves to public service,” she said. “Anyone is free to run for office if they want to.”
Ms. Butler cited her record as an advocate for further transparency in government, fiscal responsibility, and accountability as evidence of her success in office during the past year on Council and the previous two years on Borough Council. “I’ve been a watchdog on these issues and will continue to be,” she said. “We have had a zero tax increase as long as I have served. The tax rate in the new municipality has decreased. I pushed to have an oversight committee on legal expenses, which saved us thousands of dollars.”
A public relations specialist at the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, Ms. Nemeth ran for New Jersey State Assembly last year instead of seeking reelection to the consolidated Council. She lost the primary to Marie Corfield. Mr. Miller was a business executive for many years, and served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force. He has been a member of Princeton’s governing bodies for over ten years.
“I’ve worked with Sue to consolidate Princeton, create the Princeton Ridge Preserve, rebuild the Community Park pool complex, and negotiate productively with Princeton University,” Mr. Miller said in a press release. “She’s an effective leader who delivers.”
Ms. Nemeth and Mr. Miller will seek the formal endorsement of the Princeton Community Democratic Organization (PCDO) and support of the Princeton Democratic Municipal Committee in March. Ms. Nemeth said they will hold a series of coffees for members of the public this month and next, at locations to be announced. “These are not fundraisers,” she said. “They are for people to talk about their concerns, and more importantly, their hopes and dreams. Princeton has become a powerhouse economically in the region, and we have to manage that role.”
Praising Mr. Miller, Ms. Nemeth said, “We have complementary skills. We were a good team before and will be a good team again. We work well together. He has a very sharp intellect and has been an amazing mentor of mine for years.”
The press release announcing the Miller/Nemeth campaign lists several other supporters from the community, including former Princeton Township Mayor Chad Goerner, Princeton Planning Board member Gail Ullman, Princeton Environmental Commission member Wendy Kaczerski, and Scott Sillars, who ran for Council last year.
Councilwoman Jenny Crumiller, who served with Ms. Butler on Borough Council before the two were elected to Princeton Council, said she will back Ms. Butler’s quest for re-election. “I’m fully behind her,” she said. “I support Sue and Bernie’s right to run, and I think competition is healthy. But I was surprised by the support of the other Council members for ousting Jo, and so will vigorously support her. I think we need her on the Council, because she is independent and speaks truthfully, and always in the best interests of the town.”