Councilwoman Michelle Pirone Lambros To Run for New Jersey State Assembly
By Anne Levin
Princeton Councilwoman Michelle Pirone Lambros announced Tuesday that she will run for the Legislative District 16 Assembly seat being vacated by Democrat Andrew Zwicker, who recently kicked off his campaign for the seat of retiring New Jersey Senator Kip Bateman.
“I believe my business skills will be useful in navigating through the complexities of legislative initiatives. I lead through collaboration and my impact on Council and the amount of progress we were able to make, during the most challenging health and economic crisis of our lifetime, attests to my ability to get things done,” Lambros said in a press release.
In a phone conversation Tuesday, Lambros said she can remain on Council while putting herself on the ballot. While she initially thought she wouldn’t have the time to enter the race, she was urged by others to do so. “If I can be effective and people have faith in me to do public service, I’m willing to go for it,” she said. “My main motivation is COVID and all of the economic challenges we are going to have on the municipal level and the state level. I think I could be a good adviser at the state level as to what we need, for main streets and small business. We need investment and we need to figure out how we’re going to balance our budget and keep property taxes down so people don’t keep leaving New Jersey.”
On Council, Lambros chairs the Economic Development Committee and is liaison to the Princeton Merchants Association, among other committees. Her focus has been on small business recovery and economic revitalization during the pandemic.
“A number of us in the Democratic leadership in Princeton approached Michelle and strongly encouraged her to run because we feel she has been a very effective leader on Council, particularly with her focus on finding new ways to support local and small businesses before and during the pandemic,” said Jon Durbin, Mercer County Executive Committee/former PCDO president. “We need her experience and skills in Trenton, where she can continue to help Princeton, but also assist the region and state economically as we emerge from the pandemic.”
“Michelle is a collaborative and effective member of Princeton Council. I believe she will represent us well at the state level and I am happy to support her,” said Mayor Mark Freda.
In addition to her focus on small business recovery and economic revitalization, Lambros has been involved in redevelopment efforts and is on the negotiating team for many new affordable housing developments. “Michelle believes that social justice is tied to equity of opportunity, and that we can better serve the community at large if there are more opportunities to increase our stock of affordable and ‘missing middle’ housing,” said Fern Spruill, founder of Committed and Faithful Princetonians and member of the Princeton Civil Rights Commission.
The press release lists the central components of Lambros’ platform as “economic revitalization, main street investment, tourism, transit, sustainable development, property tax reform, and social justice.”
“Improving family leave policies, expanding fair wage legislation, enacting liquor license reform, simplifying and expanding the senior tax freeze, and funding small business revitalization efforts” are other highlights.
Green technology is an additional focus. “We have to know how to move in that direction,” Lambros said. “There is going to be a lot coming from the federal government, and we need to make sure New Jersey takes advantage. New Jersey needs to be a hub of green technology. And Central New Jersey should be a hub of tourism, with more coordination between the municipalities and counties. It’s an exciting challenge to think of the opportunities that are ahead. But there are some really grave problems we have that we need to face.”