Noting Mark Freda’s Leadership During Consolidation Process
To the Editor:
I am delighted that Mark Freda has decided to run for mayor of Princeton. I had the privilege of serving with Mark in 2012 when I was one of the Borough Council’s representatives to the Consolidation Transition Task Force. Mark chaired the task force and we served on multiple subcommittees together. I quickly became a fan of Mark, both personally and professionally.
We were handed a road map that needed to be transformed into tangible product that would allow a consolidated government to be operational on January 1, 2013. Mark’s experience in government and his deep roots in the community were invaluable as the process unfolded. More than that, however, his leadership skills were outstanding. Although consolidation had passed overwhelmingly in both the Borough and the Township, it remained a delicate and controversial issue, and implementing the reality of consolidation meant working around the landmines of rules, regulations, various departments, and personnel.
Here is what I appreciated about Mark’s leadership: he didn’t shy away from the tough conversations, taking chances, being truly transparent, or managing differences of opinion. For example, on the personnel subcommittee, we felt there might be an opportunity to move to Paid Time Off [PTO], a concept used by many governments and corporations. The employees, who were understandably anxious about additional change, protested strongly, and the idea was dropped. We tried; it didn’t work; and we moved on. No finger pointing, no recriminations.
On the infrastructure and operations subcommittee, I felt that the Recreation Department needed a dedicated crew of employees to ensure optimal operation of the pool and high-quality park maintenance. There was an emphasis on cross-training during consolidation, so not everyone agreed with me, including Mark. Nonetheless, we had the discussion at the subcommittee level, at the taskforce level and in the consolidated government. While Mark didn’t agree initially, he never undermined my efforts, never made it political or personal. Today Rec has a small, dedicated crew, and Mark and I agree that it has paid off.
Mark’s professional life has been about leadership and accountability. He understands chain of command and the importance of everyone doing his/her job to exacting standards. He has vision, and he knows how to move organizations and projects forward. There are many challenges facing our town, and all towns, and I feel strongly that Mark will be the outstanding leader we need as we move to Princeton 2.0.