July 27, 2022

Challengers Take On Three Incumbents In School Board Race

By Donald Gilpin

Three incumbents and two new candidates will be competing for three positions on the Princeton Public Schools (PPS) Board of Education (BOE) in the upcoming November 8 election.

At the 4 p.m. Monday, July 25 deadline, new candidates Lishian “Lisa” Wu and Margarita Rafalovsky, along with incumbents Debbie Bronfeld, Susan Kanter, and Dafna Kendal, had filed with the Mercer County Clerk to run for three-year terms on the Princeton BOE. Bronfeld and Kendal, who is currently BOE president, will be running for their third terms, and Kanter will be seeking her second term in office.

Wu and Rafalovsky have not yet responded to email and phone requests for commentary on their campaigns. The three incumbents provided statements and background information for an article in the July 13 Town Topics, and all the candidates will be discussed more fully and provided a forum for their opinions in a fall issue of Town Topics.

Though a new candidate for BOE, Wu is a familiar figure on the local political scene. She ran for Princeton Council in 2018 on the Republican ticket, losing out to Democrats Dwaine Williamson and Eve Niedergang. In 2019 she ran for Mercer County Executive and lost to incumbent Democrat Brian Hughes.

A resident of Elm Court on Elm Road, Wu was born in Taiwan and came to the United States to study at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1974. She raised three children as a single mother.

Her professional background is in accounting and her concerns as a candidate for the School Board are likely to be similar to those of her previous campaigns: spending and taxes, transparency, and openness to public input.

Rafalovsky, a Library Place resident with extensive experience in the financial service industry, came into the public sphere earlier this year as co-founder and board trustee of Princeton Citizens Alliance. A nonprofit that provides input on local issues and acts to address the concerns of the community, Princeton Citizens Alliance took a strong stand against allowing cannabis dispensaries in town.

In a February 2 Town Topics letter to the editor, Rafalovsky wrote that she had voted in favor of legalization of cannabis in the state, but that she was urging the Princeton Council to reject the Cannabis Task Force’s recommendation to allow a dispensary in town. In voicing her opposition she cited concerns over costs to the town, risk of litigation, parking, sustainability, regulation of cannabis potency, and dangers of addiction, particularly among youth, along with the objections of the School Board. 

Rafalovsky’s profile at LinkedIn notes her educational background with an undergraduate degree from Rutgers University in computer information systems and a master’s degree in information systems from New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Bronfeld has lived in Princeton for more than 20 years and has two sons who graduated from Princeton High School.  She is currently on the BOE Operations and Student Achievement committees, chair of the Personnel Committee, and co-chair of the Equity Committee.

Kanter, with extensive experience in business and in community volunteer roles, has three children who have graduated from PHS and has also lived in Princeton for more than 20 years. She has served on the Board’s Equity, Policy, Long-Term Planning, and Student Achievement committees, and is co-chair of the Operations Committee.

Kendal, BOE president since January 2022, has been a Princeton resident since 2011 with a son who graduated from PHS and a daughter who is currently a PHS 10th grader. Kendal serves on the Equity, Personnel, and Student Achievement committees and as an alternate on the Long-Term Planning Committee.