October 25, 2017

To the Editor:

On November 7, the New Jersey governorship and our whole legislature (40 Senators and 80 General Assembly members) are up for election. New Jersey is one of only two states with gubernatorial elections this year, and the rest of the country will be watching. This year, we ALL have to go to the polls and vote! We have to make sure our voices are heard and that we elect officials — legislators, sheriffs, freeholders, council members, board of education members — who truly represent us.

However, in this age of abundant data, it can be surprisingly difficult to learn who is running for office, and what their positions are on the issues. Do you want to contact your local candidates to ask their positions on issues they have not spoken about publicly? Good luck with that! All the state provides is the candidates’ names and postal addresses.

The Good Government Coalition of New Jersey (ggcnj.org), a new non-partisan grassroots group that grew up in Princeton, recently launched a campaign to correct this problem. GGCNJ created a database designed to provide information on all statewide candidates (and many local candidates) running this year. Candidates are asked to state their views on a list of good government measures and supply personal contact information (email, phone, website, social media) as well as biographical information (occupation, education, previous public service). This information is then posted on the site so voters can make informed decisions.

GGCNJ is calling on all candidates to help by providing their information to the database — every candidate should want informed voters! (Email info@ggcnj.org to get an electronic survey form.) We also encourage all citizens to make use of this database before they cast their ballots.

GGCNJ’s broader mission is to strengthen democracy in New Jersey by working with residents across our state to bring greater transparency, accountability, and participation to our state and local governments. The Coalition has identified several areas in which the current political system in New Jersey is broken. Too much power is concentrated in too few hands. This leads to a system that is dominated by those with money and power who shape decisions in backroom deals, leaving the public shut out of the process. GGCNJ aims to ensure that government, at both the state and local levels, works on behalf of all of us. To find out more and to join us, please go to ggcnj.org.

Yael Niv, Nathaniel Daw

Franklin Ave

Julia Sass Rubin, Gregory Stankiewicz 

Raisa Rubin-Stankiewicz 

Jefferson Road

Kathleen Cassidy

Mt Lucas Road

Roger Shatzkin 

Chestnut Street

Karla Cook

Spruce Street

Kristen Suozzo

Prospect Avenue

Kristina Corvin

Leigh Avenue

October 18, 2017

To The Editor:

I have been a member of the YMCA for many years and have found the aerobic exercises in the basement very helpful. Lately I have such trouble navigating the steep staircase to reach the gym in the basement that I have been unable to continue with the exercises. However, a month ago, a new program called Senior Strong was offered (mainly chair exercises) in a different space on the ground floor. These workouts include light aerobic exercises, and exercises with weights, tubes, and balls to improve overall strength and coordination. These exercises have helped me very much. In earlier years and now again I thank the teacher, Virginia Soltis, very warmly. She is an expert and encouraging trainer with rare human talents.

There is a fly in the ointment. The new class on the ground floor is undersubscribed. In that circumstance, there is always worry that a space will be reassigned.

I would like to thank the administration of the YMCA for making it possible for people with limited mobility to take part in the their wonderful program. I very much hope that the YMCA will see the way clear for maintaining and expanding this life enhancing program for senior citizens.

Anne Morrison
Linwood Circle

To the Editor,

I write to strongly endorse Julie Ramirez, a candidate for Princeton’s Board of Education. I have known Julie and her family for ten years and am certain that she will do an exceptional job if elected to the School Board. With four children at Johnson Park, John Witherspoon, and Princeton High School; Julie knows our district well, is a passionate advocate for our public schools, and understands that job number one is to make sure that our children receive the highest quality education possible in an environment that gives every child, from all backgrounds, the opportunity to learn, grow, and realize their full potential.

Julie also understands that we need to do this in a financially responsible manner. As a seven-year member of Princeton’s Citizen’s Finance Advisory Committee, I know how important it is to our residents to have great services AND keep tax increases as modest as possible. The school district has a large complex budget and, with a growing student body and insufficient space in almost every building, the School Board faces historic challenges related to physical expansion, capital spending, and long-term operational budgeting. With her successful 20-year career in finance and project management in the private sector, Julie has a unique background and skill set that makes her particularly well qualified to serve on the Board at this critical and difficult time.

Our children deserve the best education we can afford and our taxpayers deserve elected representatives like Julie who bring professional expertise to the board, and who will preserve our schools’ excellence in the most efficient, responsible way. I strongly encourage you to join me in voting for Julie Ramirez (ballot position #5) for Board of Education on November 7.

Brian McDonald
Journey’s End Lane

To the Editor:

I write to lend my enthusiastic support to Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, who is running for re-election to New Jersey’s 16th Legislative District.

Andrew has been an outstanding representative. A physicist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, named by The American Association of Physics Teachers as one of the country’s top 75 leading contributors to physics education, Andrew is also experienced in business operations. Recently, teaming with tech sector leaders, he helped spearhead a novel public-private partnership focused on developing green energy.

In the Assembly, Andrew has had more than a dozen bills signed into law and is a sponsor of many more, including those supporting young farmers, low-income home energy assistance, air-pollution control, and voter privacy.

As a former mayor (Princeton Township), and council president (Princeton), I am familiar with the qualities necessary for those seeking elective office and Andrew has those qualities in abundance. While his opponents have embraced the regressive policies of the Chris Christie wing of the Republican party, Andrew has provided a voice in the Assembly for the middle class, and for better jobs, education, and housing opportunities for all of the residents of our great state. I urge you to vote on November 7 to re-elect Andrew Zwicker.

Bernie Miller
Governors Lane

To the Editor:

I am pleased to endorse and encourage others to vote for Michele Tuck-Ponder (Line #3) in the upcoming school board election. In Michele, we have an opportunity to strengthen our board with a person who possesses a proven record of civil service, commitment to our community and the exceptional knowledge and ability to bring people together.

As a former teacher (retired) in the Princeton Public School system for 41 years, I had a bird’s eye view of how our school system operated. Although our system is already considered to be amongst the best in the nation, there remains a great deal of room for improvement to ensure that all our children benefit. No one understands this town better than Michele, nor the myriad of issues and challenges that must be addressed to improve opportunities for all our children.

Among her many leadership qualities, I have great respect for her commitment to institutional transparency which allows all community stakeholders to be informed, collaborative, and supportive. She brings people together on tough issues. This is more important now than ever as we face major budgetary concerns, increases in the student population, focus on the health and mental wellness of students, the need for greater diversity amongst our faculty and administrators, and a growing desire to improve the opportunities and outcomes for all our students regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or gender orientation.

Michele’s service to this town is worth repeating. Not only was she mayor of Princeton Township for three years, she served on Town Council for six years, and served as police commissioner for two years. She’s been on many non-profit boards, committees, task forces and a consistent presence in the schools as an advocate for children besides her own.

I’m pulling the lever for Michele. I encourage those who want the best for our community to do the same.

Frances Broadway Craig
Maclean Street

To the Editor:
I write to endorse Beth Behrend for Princeton’s Board of Education and to encourage Princeton to vote for Beth on November 7.

I have worked closely with Beth as a fellow board member of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association where Beth is Board secretary, on the Executive Committee, and also serves on the Education and Development Committees. Beth put her legal skills to work in helping to update the organization’s by-laws and drafted a planned giving policy. She also helped expand the breadth of the Watershed’s environmental education programs to address next generation science standards and helped connect John Witherspoon Middle School’s classes with the Watershed’s outstanding environmental education programs. Beth has been a dedicated board member and the Watershed is a better organization thanks to her service.

I also am a member of Princeton’s Citizens Finance Advisory Committee and consequently am very familiar with our town’s financial picture, including the burden that high property taxes place on the community. In many conversations about town and school finances over the years, I have found that Beth is committed to fiscal prudence as a priority in decisions affecting the taxpayer’s wallet.

Beth is a clear-thinking, level-headed, experienced leader who wholly commits herself to excellence and equity. Through her career in corporate law she advised on financings, acquisitions, governance, and regulatory matters. As a leader of the Riverside PTO she raised over $50,000 for the school gardens. She understands finance, understands governance, understands organizational decision-making, and understands strategic planning. With these skills, I am confident that Beth will ensure that our schools deliver the highest quality education for every student while simultaneously honoring citizens’ concerns about higher taxes.

Princeton’s schools and taxpayers would both be well served by having Beth Behrend on the School Board.

Scott Sillars
Patton Avenue

To the Editor:
First off, I would like to thank all of the School Board candidates who participated in the Not in Our Town-sponsored forum on Sunday October 8. All showed true commitment to listening and taking note of the students voices.

Throughout the forum, the candidates were asked tough questions, posed by students themselves. There were a myriad of topics asked throughout the night, some being about race, discrimination, mental health, and discipline. A question that seemed to resonate well with the audience was: “Can you describe a conversation that you have initiated about race with your child?” Towards the end of the forum, questions were received from the audience, via flashcards.

After the forum, audience comments were encouraging in the sense that the forum truly helped them form stronger opinions on the candidates, their positions, and who they are.
Thank you to all 89 audience members for attending and participating in this important part of the democratic process. An additional thank you to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton for allowing us to use their beautiful space.

Valeria Torres-Olivares ’18
Princeton High School

October 11, 2017

To the Editor:

This is in reply to Nat Bottigheimer’s letter in the September 27 Mailbox on fire risks of large-scale wood housing.

As a society, we are constructing, once again, huge housing complexes and hotels built of wood. Look around at the new megablock luxury condo/apartment complexes. Almost all are wood framed and built with more combustible lightweight and engineered wood than the heavier wood used pre-World War II.

The result: conflagrations in heavily populated areas that destroy as many as hundreds of wood condo or apartment homes in a single fire. And sprinklers are not preventing the conflagrations, which would not occur if we built large-scale housing out of non-combustible construction as we used to do.

In large-scale wood housing, a single mistake can have catastrophic consequences. Two hundred forty apartment homes were destroyed in a single fire in Edgewater in 2015, and 500 people were permanently displaced. Another conflagration destroyed nearly 100 senior homes in a newly-built upscale retirement community in Georgia and killed one senior. There are frequent massive fires that destroy smaller wood complexes of dozens of condos or apartments.

There are also many fires in under-construction megablock wood complexes. Huge construction fires this year in large-scale wood housing this year in Oakland (multiple conflagrations), Boston (multiple conflagrations), Kansas City, and Raleigh spread to surrounding occupied buildings. The construction fire in Kansas City spread burning embers a square mile and burned two dozen surrounding occupied homes.

For an up-to-date list go to Facebook’s Massive Fires Damage Lives and scroll down.

So far there have not been many deaths in these fires. But death statistics are only one measure of damage. Surviving a major fire and losing one’s home is a traumatic event. Large long-term studies at major medical centers nationwide show that emotional trauma for fire survivors has similar life consequences as physical trauma, including divorce, job loss, anxiety, and depression. Search “Plos One — The Long-Term Impact of Physical and Emotional Trauma: The Station Nightclub Fire”

Megablock wood structure fires are conflagrations in which an entire block or more is burning. Multiple fire companies fight the fires which last many hours, and toxic smoke is released. In Raleigh police warned residents to stay away from the downtown for several days due to unhealthy air. The cost to municipalities in fighting these fires is high, neighborhood communities are destroyed, and the local economy suffers.

Citizens and experts are addressing this issue on the local, state, and national level. National code and fire experts, as well as informed citizens, are working for code reform. Note that paid lobbyists from the building industries wield influence on national building and fire code committees.

There are seven bills before the New Jersey state legislature. Citizens who have been working on this issue since the Edgewater conflagration support New Jersey bills Senate 1632/Assembly 3770 sponsored by Senators Turner and Bateman and Assembly members Muoio, Gusciora, Zwicker, and Chaparro.

It is time to take action at the state and local level for better fire protection in large wood structures.

Alexi Assmus

Maple Street

To the Editor:

As scientists and scientific enthusiasts, we are well aware of recent national trends which disregard science and abuse rational thought. Thus, we feel it’s necessary to support candidates who understand and value science in our society, and will undoubtedly support scientific education. This is why we are backing Jenny Ludmer, a former scientific analyst and writer, for the Board of Education.

One day a year at Littlebrook Elementary, we’ve seen fascinating things happen. Bees, lasers, bubbles, and goats descend upon the school. It’s not uncommon to hear loud chemistry explosions or see marshmallow peeps expand, while words like “central limit theorem” and “bionic eye” come drifting into the halls. For several years, Jenny has demonstrated her passion for scientific education by organizing this inspiring annual event at Littlebrook Elementary, known simply as the Science Expo.

An event that can only happen in a town like Princeton, the Expo draws science enthusiasts from industry as well as academia, parents as well as community members, into the school for one full day of action. Classes rotate through the school, so that each child participates in at least a dozen 20-minute engaging presentations. The goal is simply to wow kids with science, so they can imagine a future for themselves in this intriguing world. And they do.

Jenny is the willing coordinator of this massive project, eager to work with teachers and parents to make it happen. Pouring her time and energy into this project, literally for weeks and months every spring, a perfectly-orchestrated color-coded schedule is generated for this one day in May that rivals many airport timetables. Scientists expect her to pull it off, teachers know she will make it happen, and principals trust her to lead the day. Every year that we’ve participated in the Expo, we’ve walked away with a profound sense of respect for the school’s daily work, but also the knowledge that science is loved and respected here. And we who have seen her in the trenches know that this would not happen if it were not for Jenny’s efforts, organization, and determination.

Jenny’s long-time commitment to running the Science Expo underscores her view that the future of our community will depend on children that don’t just score well on science tests, memorize facts, or do hours of homework, but on developing children’s sense of wonder and scientific thought. We can see this in every initiative she develops and cultivates, from sustainability efforts — not just in the schools but throughout the community — running the Littlebrook Garden Club, and otherwise speaking out for scientific awareness in the general public.

We believe that with her collaborative approach, fierce determination, and sheer grit, Jenny will be a hands-on and effective board member. Furthermore, with her background in scientific research and analysis, she pledges to thoroughly research and review options so that sound, evidence-based decisions can be made. Please consider Jenny Ludmer when you vote on November 7, and in the meantime, check out her website, LudmerForBOE.org.

Gabrielle Cayton-Hodges PhD, 

Amy Rogers, Ohad Mayblum

Dodds Lane

Forrest Meggers PhD

Dorann Avenue

Kosuke Imai

Randall Road

Ari Raivetz

Bertrand Drive

Yael Niv

Franklin Avenue

To the Editor:

We are writing to endorse Jess Deutsch for the Board of Education (BOE). As parents whose children recently graduated from our district, we feel that Jess is a clear choice to help our school district move forward. We have known Jess and her family for nearly 15 years, and can speak with certainty to her commitment to the children of our community and for the well-being of all Princeton children. As the founder of Princeton Balance, a board member of both the 101 Fund and of HiTops, as well as a former member of the Riverside PTO, Jess is perfectly suited to create the critical conversations and bring the changes needed to support all of our children in making the most of their educational experiences.

Jess is well versed in the multiple, complex issues that our district is facing while also having a keen understanding of the district’s strategic plan. She is a listener and problem solver, and she has the judgment and reason that will be necessary to confront the budgetary, space, and communication challenges, and to serve our whole community well. As a long-time public school teacher, I can attest to the importance of having BOE members who have a background in education who understand the needs of our children and district. With an advanced degree in education from Harvard, and years of experience as a professional education advisor, Jess is uniquely qualified to see the issues our district faces from the perspective of a parent, community leader, and, to speak the language of our students and educators. Jess will be at the forefront to ensure that our community will provide to every student in the district a first-rate education, recognizing the urgency of closing the opportunity gap and creative innovative options that will truly prepare our students to thrive. We know she takes seriously the responsibility of making decisions that affect our community for the long-term, and that require the judicious use of our taxpayer dollars.

Our three sons have now graduated from PPS as have Jess and Ted’s children. We are impressed and grateful that Jess is choosing to serve now, with the long view of our entire school system. We state with certainty and confidence that Jess has already had a positive imprint on our district. The school board needs her now. There are many fine candidates running who are looking to serve, and we thank them all for their commitment. Jess Deutsch has our enthusiastic support and is our choice for the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education.

Steve and Nadia DiGregorio

William Livingston Court

To the Editor:

The election for District 16 and all state candidates is on November 7 but the deadline for registration is October 17. With past low voter turnouts in Princeton and elsewhere it is important for people to vote and not take anything for granted, as we learned in last year’s presidential election. Over confidence that your candidate will win, even without your vote, can be a recipe for gross disappointment and worse.

If you are a citizen in Princeton and are not registered, you can go to the Clerk’s Office in Town Hall on Witherspoon Street weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Other towns likely have the same process.) It takes about five minutes to complete and sign the form which can be handed to someone in the Clerk’s Office or mailed to Trenton yourself. You can also obtain an absentee ballot at the same Clerk’s office or call the Mercer County Clerk’s office (609) 989-6465 for these forms.

Since redistricting about seven years ago, Princeton is now a minority within the larger 16th state district, which includes Hunterdon and Somerset Counties. We are fortunate to have some very good incumbent candidates in Republican Senator Kip Bateman and Democrat Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, as well as new Assembly Democrat candidate Roy Freiman, who has a strong economic business background, much needed now.

Sadly, I cannot say the same of Assembly candidate Donna Simon. In her previous brief tenure in the state Assembly (since replaced by Assemblyman Zwicker) she pretty much went along and voted for Governor Christie’s misguided policies including, for example, the scheme to import toxic fracking waste from other states to New Jersey, the state with the highest number of superfund hazardous waste sites in the nation.
She has also been a strong NRA supporter.

Even at the gubernatorial level there are several splinter party candidates who could throw the election to an unintended candidate if enough people don’t take the time to vote.

Voting should be a citizen’s priority as a right and privilege. It also gives you the right to complain if the results are not to your liking.

Grace Sinden

Ridgeview Circle

To the Editor:

This election, I am proud to support Montgomery’s hometown team — David Cheskis for Township Committee and Mark Caliguire for New Jersey General Assembly. Both are long-time residents of Montgomery, have distinguished records of community service, and understand how to protect our exceptional quality of life.

David has been active in Montgomery for almost 20 years. He was the president of the Pike Run Greens and Master Association boards and holds leadership positions in the local Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. David also has years of valuable experience on our land use boards. First as chair of the Zoning Board and now chair of the Planning Board, David has been protecting Montgomery from unwanted and inappropriate development.

Mark has served Montgomery for 14 years as a Township Committee member, mayor, and now a Somerset County Freeholder. He has been a mentor and friend for years and represents Montgomery’s spirit of community involvement. Mark was instrumental with getting our financial house back in order. We are spending below 2005 levels and have cut debt by over $30 million due to the foundation that Mark created for us. He is also a champion of open space and led the effort to preserve Skillman Park, which was at risk of being developed.

Beyond these impressive records, I am thrilled to support David and Mark because both have ardently fought against Trenton’s affordable/COAH housing mandate, which I believe represents the biggest threat to our quality of life. Special interest groups are pushing Montgomery to build thousands of new homes that we don’t need or want.

As chair of the Planning Board, David has already made a big difference by ensuring developers stick to our strict building standards and fighting for as much open space preservation as possible. While mayor and freeholder, Mark has been on the frontlines working with our state leaders to rewrite affordable housing legislation and has proposed sweeping changes to this reckless mandate.

Sadly, Mark’s election opponent doesn’t share the same position. Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker has been AWOL on the topic for years. I met with Zwicker when he first took office to discuss the biggest issues facing Montgomery. Since then, he has proposed no new ideas, no new legislation, and even refused to discuss the issue with me last summer. I guess he doesn’t care about Montgomery or the other suburban towns in his district that are suffering due to Trenton’s housing mandate.

On November 7, we have a clear choice. Let’s support our hometown team, David Cheskis and Mark Caliguire. Both care deeply about our community and have proven records of making Montgomery a better place to live.

Ed Trzaska

Mayor, Montgomery Township

To the Editor:

As I read about and listen to the positions of the school board candidates, I am concerned about the overly-prescriptive statements of some candidates. Some seem to see the school board as a PTO on steroids, rather than as financial stewards of public assets and a policy making fiduciary body serving our entire community. Julie Ramirez is a refreshing exception, and would be an excellent addition to the Board of Education.

Now more than ever, we need school board members who have relevant financial expertise and professional leadership skills. I worked with Julie for five years in a professional setting where managing expectations, time, and money was key. The initiatives she worked on impacted peoples’ lives on a global scale and they required careful planning and pragmatic execution. Her work required a grasp of the big-picture considerations and attention to the fine details in equal measure, and this is where Julie excels.

Like all good leaders, Julie holds herself accountable. She does the research to understand a problem, takes responsibility for the solution, and owns the results. I trust Julie to represent all Princeton students and taxpayers rather than narrow interests and agendas. She will act in a manner that reflects her understanding that money doesn’t grow on trees. She will ensure the schools achieve broad academic success for all students, while prioritizing the children’s wellbeing.

As the very involved parent of four wonderful kids in the Princeton schools, Julie knows our district well and has a clear vision of where we need to go. I am glad that she is ready to share her many talents with the Princeton community. When you vote on November, 7, please join me in supporting Julie Ramirez for the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education.

Kirk Williamson

Cleveland Lane

October 5, 2017

To the Editor:

We are writing this letter together to endorse Beth Behrend for the Board of Education.

We are fellow parents of children who have attended Riverside Elementary, JWMS, and PHS with Beth’s children over the past 10 years. Beth has been a beacon of light for all folks at Riverside. From new families to second generation Princetonians, all have felt the warmth of Beth’s welcome, her genuinely collaborative spirit, and her infectious enthusiasm for community and in particular for our beloved Princeton schools. Beth has been an advocate for all schools in Princeton; she has been an especially dedicated champion of our schools’ gardens.

We have all worked as volunteers with Beth in her role as PTO president of Riverside and PTO vice president garden chair — a position she held for seven years! We can vouch for Beth’s impeccable integrity and her boundless energy. Not only is Beth a hard worker, she is accountable when she promises results. Beth gets things done! While serving in a PTO leadership role at Riverside, Beth developed new ways to welcome families to the school, worked with teachers to bring new arts residencies, and completely overhauled the PTO finances to make them more transparent. She was a driving force behind expanding the garden program, not only at Riverside, but district-wide. Beth also instituted the end-of-summer “kindergarten playdate” for entering kindergarten children and their families to welcome them to Riverside and to give them an opportunity to get to know each other before the rush of the new school year. That is typical of her approach: finding a way to bring more people together, foster a sense of community, and a feeling of belonging.

In addition to her years of volunteer service and her in-depth knowledge of the district, Beth will bring 18 years of corporate legal experience managing and working with corporate and nonprofit boards of directors to the Board of Education. Her legal training means Beth makes decisions based on facts and always listens to all sides of any issue. She confronts issues head-on and works tirelessly and collaboratively to find solutions.

At this critical point in the future of the Princeton Schools, Beth’s experiences as volunteer leader, parent, and lawyer, her leadership skills, her energy, her vision for a school system that is welcoming and inclusive, creative and stimulating, and, finally, her dedication to Princeton schools and Princeton families make her a perfect fit for the Board. Join us in voting for Beth Behrend for the Board of Education!

Betsy Armstrong

Hartley Avenue

Mary Jo DiBianco

Woodside Lane

Alene M. Frankel and Matthew B. Frankel

Prospect Avenue

Mary Ellen and Larry Granozio

Philip Drive

Melissa and Tom Grzymala

Mason Drive

Wendy Wilton

Longview Drive

To the Editor:

This November, Princeton voters will elect three new members to our local school board. We are fortunate to have a wonderful selection of highly qualified candidates, each with unique strengths and experience. When I consider their relative merits, one candidate stands out from the pack: that’s former Princeton Township Mayor, Michele Tuck-Ponder.

Michele brings management expertise, a track record of leadership, a team player sensibility, personal warmth, wit, and intelligence, as well as a strong moral compass.

National rankings consistently highlight Princeton Public Schools. Michele recognizes the district’s considerable assets and will do what is necessary to safeguard and build on them, keeping an eye on costs.

At the same time, Michele will help our school system rise to meet the pressing challenges of the day. Foremost among these is the unacceptable gap both in student achievement and in discipline that correlates disturbingly with a student’s race and socio-economic status. Trained as a lawyer and with a background in civil rights, Michele will use this experience to help the district meaningfully address the scourge of educational inequity that hurts all of our students.

A lawyer, journalist, advocate, and CEO, Michele served three successful terms as mayor of Princeton Township during the 1990s, managing a $23 million budget and a staff of 100.

For her vision, experience, talent and commitment, the taxpayers and parents of Princeton Public Schools would do well to elect Michele Tuck-Ponder (#3 on your ballot) to the Board.

Anastasia Mann

Lilac Lane

To the Editor:

We are writing to support Julie Ramirez for the Board of Education. We believe Julie’s uniquely invaluable experience, both as a parent of four children (sixth through 12th grade) in our district, and her successful career as a project manager, leading diverse groups collaboratively to develop sound processes, solve complicated problems within resource constraints, and — critically — achieve measurable, lasting results, makes Julie an exemplary candidate.

In a time when the district is tackling long-term growth initiatives, and addressing strategic issues such as equity, wellness and health, and innovative improvements, Julie’s strengths are of paramount importance. Her financial acumen and governance expertise are deep and impressive. She is extremely competent, and will enjoy a flat learning curve when tackling the school district’s issues around the budget and facilities needs. In addition, Julie understands how to bridge the gap between a good idea in a committee and great results in every classroom, for every child.

It is critical that the school board be objective, understand financial implications, and work to achieve sound goals. We believe Julie has great integrity, understands her fiduciary responsibilities, is transparent, and will work to make all of our children’s educational experiences better. Please join us in voting for Julie Ramirez (ballot position #5) for Board of Education on November 7.

Matt and Sue Bowen

Stone Cliff Road

To the Editor:

On November 7, 2017, Princeton voters will elect three new members to the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education. To help voters make an informed decision, Not in Our Town Princeton (NIOT) will sponsor a public forum among the six candidates: Beth Behrend, Jessica Deutsch, James Field, Jenny Ludmer, Julie Ramirez, and Michele Tuck-Ponder. The event will take place on Sunday, October 8 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton, 50 Cherry Hill Road.

The forum will be moderated by NIOT’s student advisers, and Princeton High School students Valeria Torres-Olivares and Hamza Nishtar, who will be asking and reading questions submitted by other PHS students, as well as taking questions from the audience. This forum will provide an opportunity to discuss issues that matter to high school students from their own point of view. As such, candidates will face a series of questions from those directly affected by the Board’s decisions and policies, and will have the opportunity to make their case. We encourage students and their parents to attend this event because on October 8, the voice of PHS students will be heard!

Valeria Torres-Olivares ’​18

​Princeton High School

To the Editor:

This past Sunday, September 24, at the fifth annual Send Hunger Packing Princeton’s (SHUPP) fundraiser, it was made clear that Princeton is a caring community. While the SHUPP board did an exceptional job, the true heroes of the afternoon were those who participated and those who attended.

It was the Library, which generously provided the space, tents and equipment. It was the honoree, Nassau Presbyterian Church. It was the restaurants, who agreed to participate in the salsa competition: Olives, Princeton Soup and Sandwich, the Terra Momo Group, Two Sevens, and Tortugas. It was the judges, who donated their time and tasting expertise: Mayor Lempert, Charles Plohn, Jen Carsen of Lilipies and Caroline Trippel from Princeton Spoon. It was the DJ Carlos Hendricks and William Santana and La Bella Luz from Hot Salsa Hot Dance Studio, who generously contributed their talent to the day. And It was all the supporters, donors, and friends who joined us on Hinds Plaza. Lead donors include John and Christine Beckelman with Sandler O’Neill, The Bonner Foundation, Princeton Theological Seminary, The Bank of Princeton, the Albin Foundation, MacLean Agency, and the Princeton Truckfest. And it was the bowls provided by Adam Welch, the Arts Council and the High School and Chef Roberta Pipito. All of our supporters are truly the reason we can do what we do for the kids in our community.

The beneficiaries of our efforts are school children in our town who find themselves food insecure at times. And there are no prerequisites to participate. During the beginning of each school year, applications to participate are given to every student in the Princeton Public Schools and to the Princeton Nursery School. All who submit the application are included in the program. In this fifth year of operation, we expect to reach the milestone of over 100,000 meals delivered.

We are having an impact and that impact has happened because of the contributions and support from members of the Princeton family. Thank you to all. We look forward to a very productive year.

Ross Wishnick

For the Send Hunger Packing Princeton Board

Edgerstoune Road

To the Editor:

I recently attended an event at the Suzanne Patterson Center called “Sourcing Health Locally,” where local physicians and farmers spoke collaboratively to a packed house of people. They addressed a basic truth: what we eat and how our food is raised matters as much (if not more) to our health as having a top notch health care system. What an ingenious idea to bring farmers and physicians together to address our most stubborn health issues! As a physician, I know how impossible it is to address our population’s health issues just from within the health care system. I would like to express my gratitude to our hosts — The Suppers Programs and the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey — for creating this inspired forum. These visionary events make me want to settle permanently in the Princeton area.

Andrea Eberly, MD

Innisbrook Road, Skillman

To the Editor:

The closing of the Main Street restaurant in the Princeton Shopping Center was a tremendous blow to so many Princeton residents who enjoy a good tasty meal of simple but well-prepared American food. Main Street’s cuisine was perfectly positioned between fast food and junk food on the one hand, and ultra-elaborate, ultra-expensive food on the other.

Because the shopping center is located in a pleasant residential part of town, Main Street was the ultimate example of a neighborhood restaurant where neighbors and wait-staff knew one another and could appreciate one another. Its food was fairly simple American food (chicken platters, salads, meatloafs, omelets), accented interestingly but never with tons of salt or spices. It was, in short, a very comfortable place for the whole family to dine. And of course, parking in the center’s spacious parking lots was never a problem and was always free.

So, come on, Princeton Shopping Center: with all the empty spaces at the center, including the space previously occupied by Main Street, please bring in a restaurant that can fill the gap that Main Street left. Don’t make it exotic or snooty or filled with platters that seem an incomprehensible mixture of obscure ingredients: just make it a comfortable neighborhood restaurant that all the patrons of the other shopping center stores can once again enjoy dining at. Give us a good neighborhood restaurant!


Meadowbrook Drive

September 27, 2017

To the Editor:

Last week, you reported on the fears that some Princeton residents feel about timber-framed apartment construction [“Senior Living Complex Proposed for Harrison Street Spurs Fire Safety Concerns,” page one, Sept. 20]. I am concerned, however, that a narrow focus on apartment fire hazards runs the risk of sensationalizing a nuanced issue, which in turn could result in safety outcomes exactly opposite of those intended.

Here are some considerations that I hope can “turn down the heat” on this issue:

Fires in personal homes are more deadly than fires in apartment structures. In 2015, 70 percent of fires occurred in to one or two family home structures, but these fires accounted for 84 percent of total fire-related deaths;

There were 3,300 fire deaths in the U.S. last year, compared to 35,000 deaths from car crashes. In other words, on any given day the risk of death by auto for a Princetonian is roughly 10 times greater than by fire;

Third, fire risk in New Jersey is low compared to the rest of the country. According to the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), only four states have lower rates of fire death per 100,000 than New Jersey: Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and California.

Together, these facts suggest that, in New Jersey, it is safer to live in an apartment setting that doesn’t require daily driving to meet basic needs (as on North Harrison Street) than it is to live in a single family home, especially for senior citizens, and even more so for the vast majority without the substantial means needed for home-based care.

I strongly agree with others in Princeton that fire safety is an important concern. But just as President Trump’s sensationalized language about immigration risks is used to justify the grotesque construction of a border wall, I worry that alarmist language about fire safety could create a hostile environment that would prevent the construction in Princeton of much-needed housing for seniors of all income levels.

Housing that increases safety for seniors can also be constructed safely. Let’s work together to make this happen.

Nat Bottigheimer

White Pine Lane

To the Editor:

Beth Behrend has our vote for Princeton School Board! Beth unites communities. Beth values every person. And Beth is passionate about children and education.

Beth has demonstrated her leadership skills in the Unitarian Universalist (UU) Congregation where we have known her best. As a trustee on our Board, she has served during the launch of a comprehensive building renovation and has led efforts to develop a planned giving program to sustain us into the future. She has chaired our religious education committee while teaching Sunday classes to children for the past seven years. Beth also demonstrates the principle of valuing every single person. As a fellow teacher, I have watched her bring a difficult child into the circle to engage positively with others, benefitting the child and the group as a whole.

Beth models and teaches respect and care for our precious planet, another UU principle. She has shown this in her volunteer work with the Riverside gardens and the “Healthy Children, Healthy Planet” garden fair, and in her service on the Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association and the NJ League of Conservation Voters boards.

Beth brings her experience of a warm, community-service-centered town to everything she does here in Princeton. She is on the front lines of every project she tackles — planting the school gardens, teaching religious education classes, engaging her students in community service (be it stocking shelves at Arm and Arm or providing childcare for church events) and serving on several boards of trustees. She is never an armchair captain.

Beth lives out the UU principle calling us to promote the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all. She demonstrates that peaceful, productive communities are based on respect for each other’s differences, good communication skills and creative, collaborative problem solving. When Beth walks into a room everyone is included.

Beth Behrend will bring to the Princeton School Board her sense of the value of every person and of our whole natural and human community, and her talent of harmonious community problem solving. Children, teachers, administrators, staff, and all of us who no longer have children in the schools will all benefit from Beth Behrend’s commitment to pubic education in Princeton.

We urge you to vote for Beth Behrend for Princeton School Board.

Rev. Carol S. Haag

Unitarian Universalist minister

Dr. Carl H. Haag

Ridgeview Circle

To the Editor:

I write to support the candidacy of former Township Mayor Michele Tuck-Ponder for the Princeton Board of Education.

I have known Michele for 25 years (we served together on Township Committee) and can attest to her diligence in examining issues, her genuine commitment to serving all sectors of our community, her creativity in crafting responsible and effective solutions to issues, and her proficiency in the administrative and technical skills necessary for public leadership.

Michele has an impressive record of achievement in both the public and nonprofit spheres. In addition to her service as mayor, she has been the CEO of the Girl Scouts of Delaware-Raritan, interim executive director of the YWCA of Eastern Union County, assistant counsel to Governor Jim Florio, and assistant director of the New Jersey Division on Women and the Division of Civil Rights.

Michele has a solid grasp of our significant school issues, both from her service on Township Committee and as the parent of a fifth grade student at Community Park School and a recent graduate of Princeton High School. Among her priorities are: 1) innovative measures to assure educational equity regardless of race or socio-economic status; 2) ensuring school facilities are maintaining and developed in the most cost-effective manner; 3) carefully exploring creative approaches to establishing a school budget that is appropriate but mindful of its impact on taxpayers; and 4) reviewing school disciplinary policies to ensure that they are fair, non-discriminatory, and do not unduly burden a student’s educational progress.

I urge a vote for Michele (#3 on the ballot) on Nov. 7.

Steve Frat

Lake Drive

To the Editor:

This letter is to express our support for Jenny Ludmer, a proven school and community leader, former scientific analyst, and friend. As the parent of three children, ranging from second to seventh graders, Jenny is well aware of the many strengths of the district, but is also aware of its challenges. Raised in public schools herself, she is a passionate advocate for our community schools, as well as an active volunteer for the two schools her children attend: Littlebrook Elementary and John Witherspoon Middle School.

Shortly after moving to Princeton six years ago, Jenny threw herself into volunteer work both for the schools and the community. Her remarkable organizational skills have allowed her to lead successful sustainability efforts at the schools, as well as a chess after-school activity, a thriving garden program, and an annual Science Expo. She also serves on the board of the JWMS PTO and is a member of the Complete Streets Committee for the town.

With her dedication and persistence in pursuing the issues, Jenny is poised to be an effective and active Board member. She cares deeply about issues facing our schools and students, including the challenges of stress, as well as racial bias, and religious intolerance. Jenny also wants to see special education strengthened and differentiated instruction improved. Finally, she understands the need for prudent stewardship of our facilities and responsible planning for future growth.

In order to take on any of these issues, the district must learn to work more efficiently and Board members must work collaboratively. Jenny will be a strong addition to the Board to ensure this happens. Once she gets behind an issue, she knows how to work with administrators, Board members, teachers, parents, and the community to deliver impactful results. With a hard-working Board, we believe the district can become more responsive to the taxpaying public and more financially responsible.

The national pressures facing our schools and our community are critical and have been intensified with the current administration. Now is the time to look closely at your local candidates and ensure they have the time and energy to both protect and promote our schools. Jenny has made the choice to dedicate herself to working with others to see the schools grow, and we are confident she will continue to give 100 percent as a Board member.

We encourage everyone to learn more about Jenny’s campaign by visiting her website: LudmerForBOE.org.

Cheryl Mintz, Harris Richter

Franklin Avenue

Rachael Cooper, Amy and Eran Zacks

Dodds Lane

Rachel and Michael Benevento

Shady Brook

Lara and Josh Winn

Prospect Avenue

To the Editor:

Did I tell you how much I love living in Princeton? One of the most amazing aspects of this phenomenal town is the potential of our public schools. Harnessing this potential so that all of our children learn to live and live to learn is an ongoing challenge that requires mature and responsible leaders from our community on our School Board.

Having said that, I am delighted that we all have the opportunity to elect Jess Deutch to serve on our Board of Education. As a Princeton mom of two student athletes, Jess is tuned into what is most needed for our students in the academic and extra-curricular arenas. While we continue to marvel at the successes of our Princeton students, it’s important that the process is a journey and not just a destination. As a founder of the highly-regarded Princeton Balance, Jess has put many years of work into making sure that the learning experience is truly an enrichment experience. I know that Jess will insure that the wellbeing of our students is paramount to their academic experience.

Jess is a seasoned professional with years of experience serving Princeton University students as an advisor. In addition, Jess is tireless volunteer worker serving in many different capacities to support our community, including taking on leadership board responsibilities for both education-based and charitable organizations. Jess knows what it takes for someone to be a high performing student while also maintaining the appropriate lifestyle balances. Over the years, Jess has articulated, via the online Princeton Balance forum, mechanisms for parents and children to optimize their learning experiences. We’d be very fortunate to have Jess implement these ideas directly into our school system.

Jess is dedicated, level-headed and works well with a wide variety of people. Jess takes the time to do her homework and fully understand the issues she is working on. Jess is a team player and a good listener. Jess loves sports. For all of these reasons, I hope you’ll join me in giving Jess one of your votes for school board representation on Election Day. Did I tell you how much I love living in Princeton? 

Ernie Barsamian

Prospect Avenue