Two people have filed to run as Republicans in the election for Princeton Council next November. Kelly DiTosto and Lynn Irving officially entered their names to challenge Democrats Heather Howard and Lance Liverman, current Council members who will be up for re-election. Democrats currently hold all of the Council seats.
Both women replied to a series of questions this week. In an email, Ms. DiTosto described herself as a longtime Princeton resident whose three children have attended Princeton public schools. She has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Villanova University and currently works in the accounting field.
“I have a sincere interest in looking out for the best interests of all of Princeton’s residents and taxpayers,” she wrote, “and a belief that office holders should serve the best interests of all members of our community regardless of party affiliation.”
Ms. Irving, a native of Guangzhou, China, was a pre-school teacher and administrator before becoming a licensed real estate agent. Two of her three children are Princeton High School graduates, and one is a PHS freshman. She has been a Princeton resident for more than 25 years.
Like others who have run as Republicans, Ms. DiTosto feels the political system in Princeton leans too heavily to one side. “Our town deserves true diversity,” she wrote. “We have had one political party making all of our decisions for far too long. I believe my accounting and financial background will enable me to play an instrumental role in bringing about a more fiscally responsible Council.”
Ms. Irving said she experienced a one-party system while growing up in China. “It was not to my liking,” she said. “So I’m not that much party-affiliated. We all want the same things.”
Issues on Ms. DiTosto’s list of priorities include the pay increase Council recently voted for its members. “This action was not only a retreat from earlier pledges, but an unprecedented conflict of interest as well,” she wrote. “This is an insult to all taxpayers regardless of party affiliation and a prime example of the consequences of one-party control of Council.”
Ms. Irving feels that property taxes are an important issue. “Being in the real estate industry, I see that the rise of taxes is good in one way, not good in another,” she said. “So many residents, when their kids are grown, leave town because of the high taxes. It’s hard for us to see our friends moving away simply because of that.”
Ms. DiTosto feels the financial relationship between the town and Princeton University needs re-examination. “Many ordinary citizens believe the University is not contributing its ‘fair share,’” she wrote. “Voters need to be assured that the University’s ‘payment in lieu of taxes’ is equitable.”
She added, “The current Council appears to be concerned about rising property taxes only as a talking point at election time. Fiscal responsibility means living within a carefully crafted budget much like Princeton residents must do in their own households.”
Referring to a controversial proposal to purchase a property in the Witherspoon/Jackson neighborhood for possible expansion of a park, Ms. DiTosto wrote, “Spending $600,000 for a mini-park so soon after spending millions at Community Park only a few blocks away seems unwarranted in these times.”
The six members of Council serve three-year terms. The terms of Mr. Liverman and Ms. Howard are the only ones up for re-election. Ms. Howard served on Borough Council and Mr. Liverman on Township Committee prior to consolidation in 2013. Both were re-elected to the new governing body.