May 29, 2019

Candidates Count Down To Democratic Primary

By Donald Gilpin

With the June 4 Democratic primary election less than a week away, the three Democratic candidates for two spots on the November ballot for Princeton Council continue their outreach to Princeton voters.

Michelle Pirone Lambros, Tim Quinn, and Mia Sacks are competing next Tuesday, with the two highest vote-getters to be joined on the ballot for Council in November by Adam Bierman, who is running as an Independent. There are no Republican candidates for Council in this year’s election.

In a number of public forums, in the media, on lawn signs, pamphlets, and elsewhere, the candidates have presented their views over the past few months. Town Topics has now given each Democratic candidate the opportunity to sum up “why Princeton residents should vote for you” in the primary election. Their responses follow.

Michelle Pirone Lambros

“I bring a new perspective and fresh ideas to Princeton Council. This is why I am the only candidate to earn the endorsement of so many trusted Democratic leaders, including four former Princeton mayors, six former Council members, two freeholders, and countless prominent community leaders. I’m a fourth-generation Princetonian, and I want to expand the opportunities that opened the way for my immigrant forebears.

“My top priorities are simple: to support the town’s dwindling middle class and serve its most vulnerable residents. This means helping and not hindering small businesses; economic development being so vital to Princeton’s character. It means providing basic necessities, especially to the Witherspoon neighborhood. It means a new relationship with Princeton University and our other great institutions, initiating cooperative projects and public-private partnerships. Above all, it requires breaking out of our self-imposed fiscal straitjacket to put the brakes on our
runaway property taxes.

“I am the first candidate in this race to raise these issues, breaking with status quo thinking. I have the expertise to lead on these initiatives, a reputation for action, and the business acumen that will get things done.”

Tim Quinn

“I believe my experiences on Council, the Board of Education, and the Planning Board put me in a unique position to help address pressing challenges facing Princeton: affordability, managing growth, and fostering an inclusive community. Having served on the Citizens Finance Advisory Committee, I understand municipal budgeting. I supported strategic spending cuts, reduced our debt burden, and kept municipal taxes flat in 2018. One of our greatest opportunities for taxpayer relief is additional shared services with the schools. I helped bring the two groups to the table and now can leverage my understanding of school and municipal operations to forge productive, cost-saving partnerships.

“As a member of the Planning Board, I have focused on keeping Princeton’s unique sense of place intact and helped develop a sweeping set of reforms addressing out-of-scale new houses. I am committed to continuing to work on affordable housing, civil rights, safer transportation, and other programs essential to a caring community.

“Should I get the Democratic Party nomination in June and be re-elected in November, I will be the senior member of Council and the only one in their second term. Council has an ambitious agenda and my experience can help us get our work done.”

Mia Sacks

“I recognize the urgency of facing head-on the core challenge of affordability which threatens our town’s socioeconomic diversity. I will work to ensure that Princeton Council plays an integral part in facilitating a community-wide planning process that is equitable, environmentally responsible, and economically innovative. 

“My experiences on the Planning Board and the Environmental Commission have taught me that sustainable development is contingent upon a coordinated approach to planning and policy. I will work to ensure that coordination, as well as to promote maximum public participation — the lack of which has severely and adversely impacted our entire community in recent years.

“I believe that transparency and accountability are fundamental to good governance and effective decision-making. My commitment to these principles is evident in my decades-long professional work on behalf of human rights and democracy around the world. My years of service to Princeton have left me well-grounded in the challenges we face; and my ability to communicate clearly, to find compromise, and to forge consensus among groups with disparate views, will enable us to plan our shared future with unity.

“The Princeton we all benefit from now is the results of investments made by earlier generations on which we must build wisely. My vision for Princeton builds upon that of family members over three generations who were deeply committed to this community and its future. Key decisions about the next half century for Princeton will be made in the next few years. I am excited to be part of that process and working together with you.”

Last Thoughts

In recalling her impressions after talking to hundreds of Princetonians during the campaign, Lambros emphasized “that we are actually very unified in our concerns. We care about the economic vitality of our businesses. We care about parking and traffic and preserving Princeton’s live-work-shop-play atmosphere that makes it so special.”

Lambros went on to note that “many people don’t think Council has been paying attention to these issues,” and she added, “We care about affordability — for everyone, and we care about climate change.”

Also striking a note of unity, Quinn stated, “This campaign has deepened my appreciation of what a special community we live in. Each of us has our own individual perspectives on the big issues facing Princeton, but there is a common thread binding us together of caring deeply about our town and its future.”

He continued, “I’ve enjoyed meeting with residents from all corners of Princeton and exchanging ideas. One thing I’ve learned from these conversations is the need for us to redouble our communications about the work we are doing in order to more fully engage the community and make use of the amazing skills and energy present here.”

In reflecting on what she had learned during the campaign, Sacks stated, “There are no magical solutions to the challenges Princeton faces, however appealing they may seem. Facts matter, and I hope Princeton residents, who pride themselves on being high-information voters, will keep that in mind as they make their decisions this year.”

All three candidates have received the support of the Princeton Community Democratic Organization (PCDO). At a March 17 PCDO candidates forum, where voters’ first and second choices were ranked equally, Sacks received 97 votes (59 percent of the vote), incumbent Quinn 95 (58 percent), and Lambros 66 (40 percent).