March 20, 2019

Princeton Dems Vote To Support Three Candidates

DEMOCRATS WEIGH IN: Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker moderated and Princeton Community Democratic Organization (PCDO) members listened as Council candidates, seated from left, Michelle Pirone Lambros, Tim Quinn, and Mia Sacks, answered questions at the PCDO local candidate forum and endorsement meeting on Sunday night. (Photo by Bill Schofield) 

By Donald Gilpin

In a candidate forum and endorsement meeting Sunday night, the Princeton Community Democratic Organization (PCDO) voted to support, but not endorse, three candidates for two open positions on Princeton Council.

With 165 ballots cast and voters’ first and second choices ranked equally, Mia Sacks received 97 first and second rank votes (59 percent), incumbent Tim Quinn 95 votes (58 percent), and Michelle Pirone Lambros 66 votes (40 percent). Sixty percent was required to win PCDO endorsement, 40 percent for support. 

A fourth Democratic candidate, Adam Bierman, will also be running in the June 4 primary, but declined to participate in the endorsement process because of the dues requirement ($5-$15) to vote. “There is a need to get money out of the process,” he wrote in a letter to Town Topics. 

At a subsequent meeting of the elected members of the Princeton Democratic Municipal Committee on Monday night, 32 committee members representing the 22 voting districts of Princeton, also voting with a ranked voting system, voted to recommend to the chair of the Mercer County Democratic Committee the following ballot order in the Democratic column on the June primary ballot: Quinn, with 99 points; Sacks, with 93 points; Lambros, with 83 points; and Bierman with 45 points. The two highest-ranked candidates, Quinn and Sacks, receive the designation “Regular Democratic Organization” on the ballot.

In presenting the outcome of the Municipal Committee (MuniComm) vote, MuniComm Chair Scotia W. MacRae expressed her appreciation to the candidates. “Running for office is a difficult process, and I applaud you all for taking the step of entering a competitive race to become a public servant,” she said.

Sunday night’s full-house session at the Suzanne Patterson Resource Center gave the three candidates a chance to present their platforms and respond to questions raised by the audience, with Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker moderating the proceedings.

Each candidate delivered a two-minute opening speech. Eight questions followed — about individual qualifications, local issues, politics, and personal preferences, including such topics as parking, affordability, composting, inclusiveness and town-gown relationships — with each candidate allowed up to two minutes to respond. Each candidate finished with a two-minute statement. 

“The theme of my campaign is listening and leading,” said Quinn, emphasizing his experience with one term on Council, as well as previous experience on the Planning Board and many years on the Board of Education. “I’ve taken leadership roles and made many tough decisions, always informed by close listening.”  Quinn mentioned his concerns with affordability, holding the line on property taxes, and continuing the work he has begun on Council.

Sacks, who is active in many local organizations, claimed that the town of Princeton is at “a critical point,” and “we need to come together.” She pointed out her focus on zoning and creating affordable housing, and she emphasized her proven skills as a communicator with an extensive background in working with nonprofits. A member of the Princeton Planning Board, she serves on the Master Plan subcommittee and will chair the Subdivision Committee. Sacks called for “better coordinated processes that lead to better outcomes.”

Highlighting her background as a successful businesswoman and entrepreneur, Lambros noted the importance of maintaining diversity, providing affordable real estate, and bringing in new revenue streams. She described herself as a creative collaborator who can successfully bring stakeholders together. Citing “economic vitality concerns for the small business community,” Lambros noted that she is “someone who has opened and run my own business, and I know how they open and stay open.”

In a letter to PCDO members following Sunday’s meeting, PCDO President Jean Y. Durbin thanked the candidates and PCDO members for their successful participation. “As we turn towards the primary election on June 4, 2019, we know the candidate forum and endorsement meeting provided an opportunity for the candidates to be heard, refine their platforms, and reach the largest pool of Democratic voters in our community in true grassroots fashion,” she said.