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Republican Candidate in the Township Vies for a More 'Participatory' Committee

Matthew Hersh

When Irene White moved here in 1983, Princeton was pretty much Republican. Committeeman William Cherry and Mayor Winthorp Pike edged out now-Committeeman Bernie Miller and candidate Eleanor Lewis, and the Township retained the Republican status quo.

But that was 1983.

"Things have sure changed," said Ms. White, a Republican looking to fill a seat to be vacated by current Committeewoman Casey Hegener when her term expires in January.

A Cedar Lane resident and a former administrator in the medical division at Johnson & Johnson, Ms. White said that her background in dealing with division budgets gives her insight about how to "properly" spend Township monies. She also contended that general Republican practices, overall, dictate more "responsible" spending.

"It's runaway spending," she said, citing costs incurred by daily maintenance of the Township's open space sites, and what she sees as a "lack" of rateables, or tax-generating facilities, throughout the Township.

Specifically, she referred to spending involved in the construction of the $11.8 million Township Municipal Complex that opened in 2002, saying a building that size was not necessary.

"I think that's a cost overrun that has to be explained," she said.

"All of these things have happened in the last couple of years [and] I'm concerned with the Township's rising debt load," she said, pointing out that it "will come back to haunt us over the years."

Considering the various commissions and municipal departments the Township shares with the Borough, she added, she did not want to see it share the Borough's current financial difficulties.

An issue underscoring Ms. White's overall message was a wish to preserve the character of the Township by reinforcing the general conception of a quiet, tree-lined, residential companion to the more urban Borough.

"I think our character is unique and I think we need to develop a long-range plan to handle our traffic," she said, adding that increased traffic and development on the town's periphery "could affect us, be it through flooding, sewage, or overcrowding."

In the primary election held this past June, the two Republican candidates were outvoted by nearly a five-to-one margin. Ms. White is aware of the uphill battle she faces in a town where there are more registered Democratic voters than Republican.

"Talking on a local level, I think Republicans have a tendency to be more business oriented, more conservative, and overall more fiscally responsible," she said, describing what her party affiliation could bring to the table.

Like the Democrat and Republican candidates who have preceded her, Ms. White also said she worries about the often low resident turnout at Committee meetings and said she would use internet and mailers as methods of getting residents more involved.

But does the local political arena lend itself to the defining elements that often constitute party affiliation? Are deer, traffic, and construction partisan issues? Ms. White said party affiliation does apply to these situations, by adding a wider range of opinions to Committee.

"The deer don't know that I'm a Republican or a Democrat, [but] I feel very strongly that we need a two-party system, and I want to underscore that. I'd like to approach the job simply by preserving the Princeton that I love," she said.

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