November 1, 2017

To the Editor:

It was an amazing night at the Princeton Family YMCA’s 2017 Centennial Awards For Healthy Living hosted in the Y’s gymnasium last Thursday evening. I want to take this opportunity to thank our wonderful honorees who let us recognize their extraordinary work in making our community healthier and stronger: Rachel Dultz, MD, medical director of the Breast Health Center; Blandine Lacroix, VP for obesity marketing, Novo Nordisk; Kim Pimley, chair, Princeton Healthcare System board of trustees and community leader; Dr. Keith Wailoo, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University; Ross Wishnick, Princeton Human Services Commission chair and founder of Send Hunger Packing Princeton; and the Princeton Clergy Association, represented by its co-chairs Rabbi Adam Feldman and Rev. David A. Davis.

And a huge thank you to our inspiring Centennial Awards co-chairs Tracy Sipprelle and Cameron Manning and Silent Auction co-chairs Mana Winters and Ruth Wells. They, along with our Steering Committee members and our terrific young presenters, put on yet another memorable and uplifting presentation. And of course, much appreciation to our very generous sponsors and donors who supported the occasion and made it such a FUN party!

I am thrilled to report that our collective efforts raised more than $110,000 to support the YMCA’s work in strengthening the foundations of our community. At the YMCA, we are committed to nurturing the potential of kids, to promoting healthy living and to fostering a sense of social responsibility — and we are truly grateful to our supporters who help us to ensure that every individual has access to the essentials needed to learn, grow and thrive.

Merilyn Rovira

Chair, Board of Directors

To the Editor:

Some recent articles and letters about Sunrise’s revived proposal to build an assisted-living and memory-care complex on the narrow strip of land between the Princeton Shopping Center and Terhune Road have emphasized the desirability of extremely fire-resistant construction. Others have endorsed approval of the project without apparent realization that it is intended for assisted living and for memory care rather than for more generally defined senior housing. In previous letters to Town Topics I have expressed my own concern that the shape and size and location of the lot make any kind of residential use far less than optimal because of inevitable proximity to and disturbance by activities at the shopping center. Those reservations remain, and I also recently… and belatedly … reacted to the fact that the tentative plans show that apparently at least 80 percent of the main portion of the lot would be covered by either buildings or pavement. Counting the area of the unused panhandle portion of the lot that reaches down toward the park would artificially lower the covered-area percentage somewhat, but such a calculation is not germane to what the project would do to drainage in the area. Whoever is to be responsible for determining whether the project is approved is probably already fully aware of this limitation, but I suggest that those not directly involved who have been expressing support for approval make some allowance in their enthusiasm for the rather dramatic change it would bring about in the asphalt-to-greenery ratio on that strip of locally elevated land. To a novice in hydrological matters, it appears that virtually all the rain that is now absorbed within the boundaries of the lot would be deflected to adjacent roads and properties to possibly serious effect on road and basement flooding.

John Strother

Grover Ave

FACE OFF: Two 11- and 12-year-old PeeWee ice hockey players face off against each other during a practice at the Lisa McGraw Ice Rink at Princeton Day School. They are now part of the newly merged Lawrence Nassau Hockey Association.

By Jean Stratton

Team play, skill instruction, sportsmanship, and competition are all part of the newly formed Lawrence Nassau Hockey Association.

Established in the spring of 2017, the association is a merger of the former Lawrence Hockey Association and Nassau Hockey Association, both youth ice hockey programs with a long history in the area. more

October 25, 2017

To the Editor:

As long-term Princeton residents with children who are attending or have graduated from Princeton Public Schools, we know firsthand how integral our children’s experience in Princeton Public Schools is to success in their lives. We believe that investment in our town’s public education system is critical and remain committed to ensuring that future generations receive the same excellent education.

However, as an active part of this vibrant community, we know there are many faced with the imminent possibility of having to leave due to financial constraints. There are numerous issues impacting the entire community that the newly elected board will have to contend with — from the reported growth in student enrollment, to the contract with Cranbury up for renewal in 2020, to the multi-million-dollar facilities referendum expected to go to voters next year.

It is vital that our Board of Education take its mission to represent taxpayers seriously, remembering that a higher tax burden can undermine our community’s commitment to a socioeconomically diverse population. We need Board members willing to ask hard questions, even when unpopular, and analyze all aspects of the budget — keeping in mind the impact to the entire community. We believe Jenny Ludmer is that candidate.

As the parent of three young children in Princeton Public Schools, Jenny has a direct interest in making sure our schools are excellent. Her willingness to serve on the Complete Streets Committee — a municipal group tasked with ensuring our streets are safe and accessible to riders of all ages and abilities — exemplifies her commitment to the wider community. Jenny’s background in scientific analysis will assist her in applying a rigorous process and well-reasoned approach to finding solutions.

With her vision, passion, commitment, and most importantly — her unwavering integrity — we believe Jenny will continue to work tirelessly, as she has since moving to Princeton, for the entire community. We are confident Jenny will help to find solutions that balance the interests of young families who want the best education for their children, with those of older residents who desire to remain in the community that has become their hometown.

If you are looking for a candidate who will truly represent ALL of Princeton, on November 7, please join us in voting for Jenny LUDMER — LAST on the ballot, First for Princeton!

Archana Nimgaonkar, Jack and Uschi Taylor, Ann Marciano, Elaine Wilson

Caldwell Drive

Ken and Jen Carson, Nancy Tsai

Herrontown Road

Amie Thornton and Craig Carnaroli,
Josephine and John Werth, Betsy Denny

Bertrand Drive

To the Editor:

We heartily encourage Princeton voters to join us in voting for Julie Ramirez for the Princeton Board of Education on November 7.

Over the last year we have worked closely with Julie on a volunteer initiative for our school district. Julie has deeply impressed us with her passion for doing what’s right for children in the Princeton Public Schools, how she always combines that passion with pragmatism and good sense, and how she harnesses those qualities for effective leadership.

That Julie joins these traits so effectively is a testament to her most relevant qualifications to serve on the school board: a breadth of knowledge and experience in our schools at all grade levels, as her four children (in grades 5, 7, 10, and 12) have attended Princeton Public Schools since kindergarten; and her 20-year career as a financial systems project management professional.

The operations of our school district are complex, and the board faces significant challenges in the coming years. With her professional experience in large-scale project management, it will be second nature for Julie to help prioritize the actions and decisions that our district needs to take, to find ways that the district can achieve greater quality with constrained resources, and achieve measurable, meaningful results. These skills will prove invaluable on the school board, especially as Princeton Public Schools embarks on the capital improvements needed to serve our community’s growing enrollment.

Perhaps more than any other quality, Julie has impressed us with her work ethic. Even while working and raising four busy kids, Julie is always one of the most determined, steadily reliable, and thoughtfully engaged person involved in her volunteer commitments. When you work with Julie, you get both quantity and quality.

These are just some of the reasons we support Julie’s candidacy for School Board, but there are more: her commitment to transparency, her concern for students of diverse backgrounds and needs, her desire to see the district continue to innovate around how it serves all of its students, and more. Julie Ramirez is exactly the kind of leader we need now on the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education. Please give Julie your vote on November 7.

Amy Craft

Poe Road

Anne Desmond

Tee-Ar Place

To the Editor:

New Jersey voters can learn non-partisan information about candidates in the League of Women Voters’ online guide at www.VOTE411.org. By entering their address, voters can find out if they are registered and the location of their polling place, see their ballot, and compare the responses of candidates to League questions. Voters will also find interpretations of ballot questions, including the pros and cons for supporting them.

Launched by the League of Women Voters Education Fund in October of 2006 and introduced state by state, VOTE411 is a “one-stop-shop” for election-related information. The League hopes that voters seeking information about races — from governor to school board — will take advantage of the website.

Chrystal Schivell

League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area, 

Monroe Lane

To the Editor:

How wonderful that six people are running for the Princeton School Board! Democracy is about choices and I am happy that I have that in this School Board election. One of my votes will be for Michelle Tuck-Ponder. I have worked with her during my 22 years in elected office and after that too. She has been consistently prepared, honest, and knowledgeable. We didn’t always agree on some issues but we respected each other and civility always reigned. I stress that because her stellar resume informs you of the breadth of her academic and professional experience, and of her community involvement that will be of value to the School Board. What is not easily evident on any resume are the “people” skills that are essential to being a superior School Board member, or for that matter, being a productive member of any board.

The ability to listen, to be flexible, open-minded, accessible, and patient are vital skills that are not always apparent on paper. Michelle has these very important qualities. I hope that your thoughtful evaluation of the candidates will lead you to join me on November 7 in supporting Michelle Tuck-Ponder for the Princeton Board.

Phyllis Marchand

Montadale Drive

To the Editor:

Community and friends, please accept this letter to the editor as food for thought as you prepare to cast your ballots for new members to the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education (BOE). Having run for the BOE in Princeton years ago and now running campaigns for progressive candidates in different states around the country, I am interested to see the number of really good Princeton people wanting to serve our town, kids and families. However, with every election there are winners and candidates who didn’t get enough votes.

There are no losers when it comes to community service and wanting your school system to be the best and your students prepared to learn and to live. Anyone who takes the time to run a campaign, be a candidate, share a thoughtful educational message is to be applauded. Having said that, there are three available seats on the board and I want to encourage all voters to do as I did. Make every effort to meet the candidates, or contact them in some way to share your thoughts and to hear their vision for the district and if all else fails, go online to candidate websites and get a read on each of those seeking your support.

I am supporting Jess Deutsch and Beth Behrend for PPS Board and I’m asking those reading this letter to do the same. Jess Deutsch’s educational work, background, and expertise as well as Beth Behrend’s problem solving skills and legal insight will be major assets to what in my mind has been an effective Board. This endorsement means that I will work very hard to assist these candidates, but it also means after they are elected, I will remind Jess and Beth about their commitments and the hard work that still needs to be done. Princeton High School and to some degree all Princeton Public Schools are the best in the state. The challenge for these candidates and the district is to make sure that ALL students achieve and succeed to be successful contributors to society. I believe that Jess Deutsch and Beth Behrend are the best people to help us get there and therefore are my choice for the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education.

Blessings and Putting Kids First,

John Bailey

Highway 27

To the Editor:

We are writing this letter in support of Beth Behrend, a candidate for the Princeton Public Schools’ Board of Education (BOE).

We know Beth primarily through our shared work to establish and improve PPS school gardens and garden-related curriculum. Beth was a leader in the garden movement for several years while she served as Riverside Elementary School’s garden coordinator and PTO president, and also as a board member of the Princeton School Gardens Cooperative. She was instrumental in finding creative ways to fund school gardens and played a major role in helping to integrate the gardens into the school curriculum.

Beth also created and directed the Healthy Children/Healthy Planet community fundraiser for the Riverside school gardens. This annual event raised $50,000 over five years and brought together many different constituencies to work toward a common goal: improving the health and education of children.

In addition to her garden work, Beth was a founding trustee and secretary of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, currently serves as secretary of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, and has actively supported many local organizations that benefit our schools and our students.

As her record suggests, Beth has long been a passionate advocate for children and sustainability. She is highly dedicated, thoughtful, and meticulous. She respects diverse viewpoints, collaborates skillfully, and always thinks about the big picture. Her deep experience as a volunteer leader, as well as her legal training and career, make her an excellent candidate. The Princeton community would benefit tremendously from having her join the BOE.

Stephanie Chorney 

Race Street

Jennifer Jang 

Russell Road

Amy Mayer

Overbrook Road

Elizabeth White

Newlin Road

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

ART AND LIFE: From his childhood behind the Iron Curtain in Bulgaria to a successful career in the restaurant business (starting at a resort on the Black Sea) to a new life in New Jersey as a painter, muralist, and designer, Cvetko Ivanov has come a long way to his porch on Vandeventer Street, where he stands amidst a selection of his original works. 

By Donald Gilpin

Artist Cvetko Ivanov can be found most Saturdays and Sundays surrounded by dozens of his paintings on the front porch of the Vandeventer Street house where he lives with his niece and her husband. From his easy-going, friendly demeanor as he talks to passers-by and other interested customers, it might be hard to guess that his life has taken more than a few dramatic turns.  more

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