January 27, 2016

Fraga Announces Bid for Council While Simon Decides Not to Run

The list of Democratic candidates for Princeton Council continues to grow, with Leticia Fraga, the former chairperson of Mayor Liz Lempert’s re-election campaign, the latest to announce her intention to run. But Council member Patrick Simon, who was considering re-election to the governing body or a run for mayor, announced last week that he has opted to do neither.

“After careful consideration, I have decided that I will not seek reelection to Princeton Council this year, and also that I will not seek election to the office of mayor of Princeton,” Mr. Simon said in an email. “Instead, I will focus my efforts in 2016 on serving out the remainder of my current term on Princeton’s municipal council to the best of my ability. I am very grateful to the members of the Princeton community who have stepped forward to run for local office, incumbents and newcomers alike, and to those others who may choose to do so as well in the days and weeks ahead. I wish them well.”

Fellow Democrat Amner Deleon, who serves on the town’s Traffic and Transportation Committee, is still mulling over a run for Council. “At this point what I can share with you is that I am still strongly considering a run,” he said in an email on Monday. “It is an exciting time for the party, seeing great qualified citizens stepping up and wanting to run. I look forward to making my final decision soon.”

The terms of Mr. Simon and Jenny Crumiller will be up this year. Ms. Crumiller has indicated she will run for another three-year term. Democrat Tim Quinn, former school board chairman, recently announced his intention to enter the race. Mr. Quinn is the marketing and communications director of the Princeton Public Library, where he has worked since 2000.

Ms. Fraga, who is vice-chair of Princeton’s Human Services Commission, said her decision to run came after much deliberation and the urging of friends and colleagues. “Knowing of my passion for helping and involvement in the community, people who know me planted the seed several years ago,” she said. “I was enjoying the work I was doing for boards and commissions. But I felt this was a good time for me to add to my advocacy work.”

Born in Mexico, Ms. Fraga immigrated to the United States with her family when she was 12. She is one of eight children. “As soon as we were born, my father would do the paperwork needed in case we immigrated,” she said. “I feel very fortunate about that. My father was born in the U.S. I have great sympathy for those who don’t have that option.”

The family lived in Washington state. Ms. Fraga met her husband Steve Nadler, who works for Bristol Myers Squibb, in Seattle. The couple moved to New Jersey in 1999. They are the parents of 11-year-old twins. Ms. Fraga is also the mother of three grown children and has seven grandchildren.

Prior to moving to New Jersey, she worked in civil rights enforcement, investigating and mediating complaints of discrimination. She also worked as a paralegal for public defender offices.

In Princeton, Ms. Fraga has served on several boards and commissions. She chairs the town’s sub-committee on civil rights, and is Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of Princeton Community Housing and the Princeton YWCA, where she has worked on “Send Hunger Packing,” the local initiative that addresses food insecurity.

Ms. Fraga considers herself a relative newcomer to politics. “I don’t have experience in the political world,” she said. “It’s fairly new to me. But I did help out in the 2008 and 2012 elections, manning phone banks. When we lived in what was formerly the township I was a committee woman for my district.”

The fact that Ms. Fraga would probably be the first Latino to serve on the governing body if elected is not her reason for running. “It would be a proud moment for me and my family and community,” she said. “But that’s not why I’m doing this. I’m running because I feel I have a lot to contribute to the town.”

Affordability and making educational opportunities available to more members of the community figure high on her list of priorities.

“One common thread I hear about is the issue of affordability,” she said. “The lack of affordable rentals is one thing. I’d be trying to work on solutions, but of course it’s not something that can be solved overnight. The other thing is that we have great schools here, but I’m very aware that not every family is able to take advantage. Not everyone can provide computers for their children, which is a problem. I’d be working on closing that achievement gap. I feel strongly that we need to find a way to break that pattern of disadvantage. It will make the whole community stronger, not just that segment.”