April 17, 2019

Mia Sacks Has Set An Example Of Principled Civic Engagement

To the Editor:

It is with great honor that I write to support Mia Sacks in her campaign for Princeton Council. For many years Mia has been passionately involved in what she calls “building community.” She has an exceptional ability to envision and keep the big picture in mind while patiently focusing on the myriad and mundane daily tasks that bring results. Working to bring about change in public institutions is a labor-intensive task that requires infinite patience and fortitude. Mia has demonstrated these qualities to an almost superhuman extent in her work on behalf of our community in many areas.

One particularly salient example is the way in which Mia introduced and built the Sustainable Jersey for Schools (SJ for Schools) program within Princeton Public Schools. The program is the schools’ arm of the municipal certification program overseen by Sustainable Princeton. It provides tools, training, and financial incentives to support and reward schools for sustainability and wellness actions. In 2014, as co-chairs of the Princeton Green Schools Coalition, Mia and I were asked to participate in one of the statewide task forces that met for over a year to establish the SJ for Schools program. Subsequently, Mia wrote start up grants and spent countless hours meeting with students, parents, teachers, administrators, facilities personnel, board members, and the superintendent, in order to successfully launch and nurture the program within PPS. Three years later, all six schools now have individual Green Teams and Wellness Committees that meet regularly to coordinate action with a District Sustainability Team. All the schools have achieved Bronze certification, with some aiming for Silver in 2019.

Several years ago Mia invited the heads of the State Board of Public Utilities to come to Princeton and give a presentation to municipal and school district officials about municipal-school energy savings programs. Subsequently she worked as a member of both the Municipal and PPS Green Teams to support the adoption of energy savings programs (ESIPs). It is estimated that one program in particular, the ESIP for PPS, will save $19 million that would otherwise have been part of the referendum.

Similarly, Mia has poured her time, energy, and talents, for the last half decade, into helping build Sustainable Princeton into an actively engaged public-nonprofit partnership. As a member of the SP Board’s Executive Committee, Mia has been deeply involved in the arduous groundwork and preparation for Princeton’s Climate Action Plan (CAP), officially released this week. The CAP, which includes representatives from all major stakeholder groups in the community, has been several years in the making and lays out 85 action items within the areas of Natural Resources, Land Use and Transportation, Materials Management, Energy, and Resiliency. If successful, the CAP will enable us to achieve an 80 percent reduction in Princeton’s carbon footprint by 2050.

Mia has set an example for many throughout Princeton of patient, principled, and proactive civic engagement. She is rare in her ability to elicit trust and maintain productive working relationships with residents on opposite sides of some of Princeton’s most divisive issues. Over the decades I have watched as newly-elected Council members take a year or more to gain their footing. It takes time to understand the complex interrelationships between local institutions, between Council and municipal staff, and between the many strong personalities that make up our unique town. Mia has long experience navigating these complexities and has proven that she can work through and around them to obtain results.

At this critical time for Princeton, we need someone with Mia’s expertise and experience on Council. Please join me in supporting Mia for Princeton on June 4.

Stephanie Chorney, MD
Race Street