June 4, 2014

Council Primary Too Close to Call

With Bernie Miller in the lead and only three votes separating Jo Butler and Sue Nemeth, Tuesday’s Democratic Primary for two available Princeton Council seats was too close to call. It will be decided only after 11 provisional ballots are reviewed by the Mercer County Board of Elections on Wednesday.

According to the unofficial numbers, Mr. Miller, an incumbent, earned 1,602 votes. Fellow incumbent Ms. Butler finished with 1,543, while Ms. Nemeth got 1,540. That total includes absentee ballots.

In the race for former Representative Rush Holt’s Congressional seat, Bonnie Watson Coleman won the most votes from Princeton, with 1,310. Andrew Zwicker earned 660, Linda Greenstein won 459, and Upendra Chivukula earned 288.

The two-year terms of Mr. Miller and Ms. Butler are set to expire at the end of this year. The seats to be decided in November are for three-year terms.

Mr. Miller, who is currently Council President, and Ms. Nemeth, who served on the former Township Committee before consolidation, ran a joint campaign in an effort to unseat Ms. Butler. The move, announced in January, had the official backing of Mayor Liz Lempert and Council members Lance Liverman and Heather Howard.

Disagreements and differences in style were the reasons for the joint campaign against Ms. Butler, known for her questioning of details and insistence on transparency. The three candidates presented their platforms at a meeting of the Princeton Community Democratic Organization (PCDO) in March, but none received enough votes to win official endorsement from the organization.

Ms. Butler, 61, was a member of Borough Council before consolidation. She served for two years before being elected to the current Council after consolidation. She works for the educational consulting firm Wickenden Associates.

Mr. Miller and Ms. Nemeth served together with Mayor Lempert and Mr. Liverman on Township Committee, where Ms. Nemeth was deputy mayor. Mr. Miller, 85, was a member of Township Committee for a decade, and has also served as Township mayor and deputy mayor. He was a captain in the U.S. Air Force and worked as a corporate business executive until his retirement in 1998.

Ms. Nemeth, 53, ran against Marie Corfield for Assembly in 2012 but lost. She was elected deputy mayor of Princeton Township in January 2011, but chose not to seek reelection to the governing body after consolidation. She has worked at the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University for more than 20 years.