To the Editor,
The most divisive event in Princeton since the Consolidation vote — is now over — thank goodness. The introduction of a “slate” of two candidates against one in the recent primary election for Princeton Council succeeded in reopening old wounds.
District-by-district voting data starkly reveals the unspoken reality of this little campaign. Every single voting district in the center of town voted Jo Butler number one, top of the three candidates. All but two voting districts in the outlying suburban regions voted Jo Butler dead last of the three. That this slate has reignited what is now a town/suburb (former Boro/former Township) divide could not be more clear.
It was never denied by the “slate” members that their objective was to oust a Council member who was said to cause “delays” in the Council. But the unspoken reality was different: the town/suburb division. A two-to-one ratio is the recurring theme. Two to one is the ratio of voters in the former Township to the former Borough; it is also the ratio of former Township members in the “slate” to the former Borough member.
The slate wished to move toward a Council that moves swiftly and with little debate. This is — surprise — reminiscent of the former Township Committee, famous for a strong mayor and not-always-transparent decisions. The voters in the center of town have indicated that they prefer a more democratic and deliberative body, albeit with strong debate on some critical issues, reminiscent of the former Borough Council.
The idea of Consolidation was to improve our town by combining the Borough with a Township twice its population. Will this mean a continuing effort to squelch the center of town by a 2 to 1 majority? Or will it mean a real effort to include the differing views of all? I hope it is the latter. Will there be “slates” to attack town candidates in future elections? I hope not.