February 12, 2020

Two Incumbents, One Newcomer in Council Race So Far

By Anne Levin

With the filing deadline for running in the June primary election seven weeks away, efforts are stepping up to secure places on the ballot for seats on Princeton Council and the office of mayor.

Democrats Leticia Fraga and David Cohen, whose three-year terms on Princeton Council conclude at the end of this year, will run for re-election. Newcomer Dina Shaw has announced her candidacy for one of those seats. Mark Freda, also a Democrat, is the only candidate so far to announce a run for mayor (Liz Lempert will not run for a third term), and he will officially kick off his campaign at an event Wednesday, February 19 at 5:30 p.m. at the Italian-American Sportsmen’s Club.

Fraga, the first Latinx person to hold elected office in Princeton, serves as the town’s police commissioner on the Public Safety Committee, and liaison to the Youth Advisory Committee and Board of Health. She is Council’s elected representative on the Civil Rights Commission and Human Services Commission.

“I see a second term as a chance to amplify the momentum, goodwill, and expertise I developed in my first three years, and to work alongside colleagues — elected and volunteer — to build on our accomplishments,” she said. “My approach to government is to endorse policies and form partnerships that support equity, inclusivity, and well-being, and that keep government responsive and transparent.”

Cohen’s term on Council has included work on land use policies to encourage smart growth, alternative transport options, more sustainable development, advocacy for seniors, affordable housing negotiations, and ensuring emergency preparedness in the face of climate change. A press release announcing his decision to run for a second term referred to his work with Fraga.

“Their areas of interest and expertise dovetail perfectly,” it reads. “Ms. Fraga’s commitment to advocating for the marginalized members of our community — her work on the Civil Rights and Human Services commissions, and with our Public Safety Committee — allows Councilman Cohen to focus on his committee assignments with complete confidence that these other crucial functions of local government will be guided with a steady and compassionate hand. Councilman Cohen strongly endorses Ms. Fraga’s re-election, as he seeks the community’s support for his own.”

Shaw is a Princeton resident who owns the locally-based Code Tech Corporation. She has lived and worked in Princeton for 17 years. She has served as president of the Parent Teacher Organizations at Littlebrook and John Witherspoon schools, and has been active in the Princeton Community Democratic Organization, and on Princeton Council’s Economic Development Committee. She was a first vice president for the Friends of Princeton Public Library, and a member of Mercer County Moms Demand Action.

“I’ve been working for our community as a business owner and an active volunteer in our schools, nonprofit, and political organizations,” she said in the announcement of her candidacy. “I accomplish goals by working to understand issues, identifying options, building constituencies, and driving the best results for the community at large. Now, I’m ready to apply my energy and skills as a member of Princeton Council.”

Shaw’s three-point platform includes managing economic development, communication and inclusivity, and support for Princeton Public Schools.

Freda, who announced his candidacy for mayor last December, is president of the Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad and a former member of Princeton Borough Council. He chaired the Transition Task Force during the consolidation of the former Borough and Township.

Freda emphasizes the development of affordable housing needs; expanding relationships with Princeton University, Mercer County, and Princeton Public Schools; coordinating and expanding the transportation system; economic development; building on the existing Climate Action Plan; and maintaining roads and infrastructure.

“Transparency and clear two-way communication are at the core of my campaign,” he said. “My experience and leadership will help us grow our culture of customer service and responsive government here in Princeton.”