2016 Princeton Council Democratic Primary Candidate Forum

In advance of the upcoming primary election, please watch the council candidate forum if you are not familiar with the candidates and their priorities and positions.

2016 Princeton Council Democratic Primary Candidate Forum from Princeton Community Television on Vimeo.

( )

PCDO Endorsement Meeting Results

At the March 20th PCDO membership meeting, Liz Lempert receive the unanimous endorsement by acclamation from the club in her bid for a second term as Mayor.


The main event of the evening was the forum among four contenders running for two open seats on the Princeton Council. As a result of the strong candidate pool, the membership spread their votes such that no candidate received the 60% required to attain the club's endorsement. In the final count, Jenny Crumiller, Tim Quinn, and Anne Neumann each received the support level of 40% after the second ballot.


A total of 166 valid ballots were cast. Following the first ballot voting, the results stood as follows (percentages rounded to tenths):


Jenny Crumiller          80 votes (48.2%)

Tim Quinn                  79 votes (47.6%)

Anne Neumann           54 votes (32.5%)

Leticia Fraga               52 votes (31.3%)


According to the rules of the meeting, the person with the fewest votes, Leticia Fraga, was eliminated from contention for the runoff count. In the runoff, the following results were tabulated:


Jenny Crumiller          93 votes (56.0%)

Tim Quinn                  88 votes (53.0%)

Anne Neumann          68 votes (41.0%)


As per the bylaws, the results will be communicated to the Princeton Democratic Municipal Committee as part of their consideration regarding the candidates' ballot placement for the June primary. At the Municipal Committee meeting, the Committee will meet with each of the four candidates and then vote to recommend which is placed in the Democratic column, which will receive the official party logo and slogan next to their name, and the order of the candidates in the column. The Committee's recommendations are then passed to Mercer County Democratic Party Chair Liz Muoio for final approval before the primary ballots are printed.


The PCDO Executive Board wishes to thank all the candidates for an informative discussion of the issues. It also expresses its appreciation to all the members who came out to make their voices heard in our democratic process. 

( )

Clinton, Coleman Gain PCDO Endorsements

Hillary Clinton received the PCDO endorsement to be the Democratic candidate for President of the United States at a meeting held on Sunday, February 21st. The vote for Secretary Clinton came after votes to approve Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman for a second term in the U.S. House of Representatives as well as endorsements for Diane Gerofsky as Mercer County Surrogate and Andrew Koontz and Anthony Verrelli for the two Mercer County Freeholder seats that are up for election this year.


Characterizing her first term in the House as dealing with “difficult times, in a difficult Congress, but under a great President,” Rep. Coleman described her work for the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Homeland Security Committee. In this post, she is the ranking Democrat of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency that reviews the department’s operations. The biggest challenge in Congress, according to Coleman, is making sure the rights that Republicans are trying to erode remain available to everyone, even “the lost, the last, and the least.” “This Republican-controlled Congress is trying to take us back to another era,” she stated, “so we need to work to increase the Democratic caucus.”


Turning to the County races, Diane Gerofsky explained the workings of the Surrogate Court, including their responsibilities regarding wills and estates, adoptions, and acting as the custodian of funds awarded to minors through inheritances or insurance policies. Among the duties is the obligation to ensure that the monies are invested safely until their disbursement. Gerofsky was first elected as Surrogate in 1996 and is running for her fifth five-year term.


Incumbent Freeholder Andrew Koontz is seeking his third term in office and outlined the important economic drivers for Mercer County, including the need for a new terminal for the Trenton-Mercer Airport in order to increase capacity and meet stringent Homeland Security regulations. Also high on the Freeholders’ agenda for the year is a decision on how to deal with the continuing problem of overcrowding at the county jail. Koontz outlined a recent plan to utilize more modern facilities in a cooperative agreement with Hudson County, but “We need to consider all the ramifications for the jail workers and the families of the prisoners” before coming to a decision. Finally, he passed along the thanks of retiring Freeholder Anthony Carabelli, the longest tenured Freeholder in Mercer County history, who is stepping down after four decades in office.


Running for the seat being vacated by Freeholder Carabelli is Anthony Verrelli, who also spoke to the group to seek its endorsement. Although new to elective politics, Verrelli talked about his experiences as Vice Chair of the Mercer County Improvement Authority as well as his positions with the Mercer County Planning Board and the Ewing Township Board of Adjustment. A native of Pennington, Verrelli described Mercer County as “the best county to work, live, and raise a family” and pledged to bring “integrity and vision” to the position. A carpenter by trade and Senior Council representative of the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters, Verrelli described a program he created that helps ex-offenders gain training for careers in carpentry.


Coleman, Gerofsky, Koontz, and Verrelli were all endorsed by acclamation.


In the evening’s only contested race for U.S. President, Craig Garcia of the PCDO Executive Board and Grace Strom Power from the West Windsor Democratic Club debated the merits of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, respectively. Power, who also serves as Co-Chair of the NJ Democratic State Committee Women’s Caucus, touted Clinton as a “pragmatic progressive” who can actually achieve progress. Describing Clinton as “the most qualified candidate for the office in my lifetime,” Power related how her kindergarten-aged daughter couldn’t believe that there has never been “a girl President.”

Garcia noted Sanders’ support from the Working Families Party and indicated that, just as important as the issues of economic fairness Sanders’ promotes on the campaign trail, the real motivation for many of Sanders’ followers is to revive “small d grassroots democracy.” “The people now in their twenties and thirties have more education than any previous generation and are the first generation of Americans to have fewer opportunities than their parents,” Garcia explained.


Needing 60% of the member votes cast in order to gain the endorsement, Clinton achieved the nod with a comfortable margin by capturing 68% of the 41 votes cast.


In the evening’s final agenda item, member Dosier Hammond presented a resolution to support additional affordable housing and applauds the municipality’s efforts to meet its obligations. The resolution was passed unanimously.


Next Meeting: Endorsement Night for Princeton Races, including Mayor and Council

Date: Sunday, March 20th.


Please Note: Only Princeton residents with up-to-date membership status as of March 6th will be eligible to vote at this meeting.


( )

2016 Reorganization Meeting and New Executive Board

The PCDO held its annual reorganizaton meeting on Sunday evening, January 31st. The potluck dinner provided more than enough food and drink, and the conversation was -- as usual -- informative, entertaining, and thought-provoking. In addition to familiar faces and some new ones, a wide range of elected officials mixed with the crowd. Among the attendees were Assembly members Liz Muoio (who is also the Mercer County Democratic Chair) and Andrew Zwicker; County Executive Brian Hughes; Sheriff Jack Kemler; County Clerk Paula Sollami Covello; Surrogate Diane Gerofsky; Freeholder Andrew Koontz; and Princeton's own elected officials: Mayor Liz Lempert; Council members Jo Butler, Jenny Crumiller, Heather Howard, and Bernie Miller.

potluck dinner


A full slate of officers and at-large members was welcomed onto the Executive Board for the coming year. The new officers are:

President - Owen O'Donnell

1st Vice President - Amner Deleon

2nd Vice President - Dwaine Williamson

Treasurer - David Cohen

Assistant Treasurer - Maureen Quap

Recording Secretary - Peter Lindenfeld

Corresponding Secretary - Joanna Dougherty


The twelve at-large members are:

Jose Alcantara

Kathleen Cassidy

Kip Cherry

Mary Clurman

Liz Cohen

Jim Floyd

Mark Freda

Craig Garcia

Paul Gilmore

Anne Neumann

Sheldon Sturges

Russell Weiss-Irwin


This year's Board is rounded out by the following elected officials and Democratic Party leaders living in the community:

Doreen Blanc-Rockstram - 1st Vice Chair, Princeton Democratic Municipal Committee

Jo Butler - Princeton Council

Jenny Crumiller - Princeton Council

Jon Durbin - PCDO Immediate Past President

Heather Howard - Princeton Council

Brian Hughes - Mercer County Executive

Andrew Koontz - Mercer County Freeholder

Liz Lempert - Princeton Mayor

Lance Liverman - Princeton Council

Scotia MacRae - 2nd Vice Chair, Princeton Democratic Municipal Committee

Bernie Miller - Princeton Council

Patrick Simon - Princeton Council

Peter Wolanin - Chair, Princeton Democratic Municipal Committee


Before the election of the new Board, outgoing President Jon Durbin highlighted some of the accomplishments of his tenure, including the continued strength of the Democratic Party in Princeton and Mercer County as well as our success in adding a shade of blue to the 16th Legislative District with the election of Andrew Zwicker to the Assembly. Jon also thanked longtime Executive Board member Dan Preston for his service to the organization and his ever-continuing support of the Democratic Party and democratic principles. In closing, Jon stressed the importance of the upcoming election cycle and the vital need to make sure a Democrat is elected to the White House in November.


In his remarks, Owen thanked the members, the outgoing and incoming Boards, and pledged to continue the high standards the PCDO has maintained over many years. He also noted the upcoming elections and pointed out that having a contested race for Council is a positive sign that democracy is alive and well in our community.


Jon and OwenDwaine, Owen, and Amner


Finally, three resolutions were presented to the membership for vote, with all passing:

  • Supporting the Formation of the Witherspoon-Jackson Historic District
  • Urging Implementation of Verified Voting for Mercer County
  • In Support of $15/Hour New Jersey Minimum Wage and the Right of Workers to Organize

Note: Jenny Crumiller pointed out that a quorum of the Princeton Council was present for the reading of the resolutions and, since two of the items will be presented to Council, the Council members would abstain from the vote.


Next Meeting: Endorsement Night for Non-Princeton Races, including Freeholder, County Surrogate, US House of Representatives, and President of the United States.

Special Guest: Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman

Sunday, February 21st. Doors open at 7:00 PM, meeting starts at 7:30 PM

Suzanne Patterson Senior Resource Center



( )

Andrew Zwicker Ahead in LD-16 Counts


Despite preliminary numbers that pointed to a narrow loss on election night, by morning on November 5th, the race was moved to the "too close to call" category with Andrew Zwicker in the lead by 29 votes over Donna Simon in the unoffical counts from all the counties.

In new news since then, as the approximately 50 - 60 provisional ballots in each county are being counted, Zwicker's lead has increased:

  • Hunterdon County:  Zwicker +10 after provisional ballots counted on Nov. 4th.
  • Mercer County: Zwicker +28 after provisional ballots counted on Nov. 5th.
  • Somerset County: Zwicker -7 after provisional ballots counted on Nov. 6th.
  • Middlesex County: Zwicker +17 after provisional ballots counted on No.v 9th.

As of Nov. 11th. Andrew Zwicker is beating Donna Simon by 78 votes, and will likely be declared the winner.

TAPInto has a good overall summary of the process.


( )

Princeton Democrats Celebrate the Contributions of Betty and Bob Fleming, and John Borden

About seventy committee members, supporters and elected officials attended the fall reception of the Princeton Democratic Municipal Committee on Sunday, September 7th, hosted by Anne and John Burns. The focus of the event was a celebration of the contributions to the local Democratic Party of Betty and Bob Fleming, and John Borden, all three of whom stepped down from the municipal committee in June of this year.

After introducing members of the Princeton Democratic Municipal Committee, Municipal Chair Peter Wolanin described the role of the committee in getting out the vote in Princeton.  He also emphasized that the purpose of the funds being raised at the reception would be to pay for printing, mailing, and essential campaign supplies, as well as to provide some financial support to candidates running in Princeton.

The first speaker was Assemblywoman and congressional candidate Bonnie Watson Coleman.  She thanked the municipal committee and others present for their support and commitment to turning out the Democratic vote.

Representative Rush Holt came forward to recall the contributions of the Flemings as part of the “A-team” of volunteers for his initial congressional campaigns.  He also described seeking advice before his first congressional run from John Borden and his late wife Gloria. Holt recalled that the Bordens not only urged him to run, but committed to helping with the campaign. This spirit of not just saying “yes” to whether he should run but also saying “we will help” is a distinguishing characteristic of the community of Princeton Democrats, according to Holt.

Freeholders Andrew Koontz and Pat Colavita then presented the Flemings and Borden with certificates from the Mercer County Board of Chosen Freeholders recognizing their service to the municipal and county Democratic committees.  Andrew Koontz recalled that John Borden was the last serving member of the former Princeton Borough Democratic Committee who had been part of the committee that elected Mr. Koontz as the Borough municipal chair in 1997.  In total, John Borden served about 28 years as a committee man and was noted by Freeholder Koontz for his reliability in working his district over those many years.

Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert spoke next to offer her personal thanks to Betty Fleming for serving as her campaign treasurer and to both Bob and Betty Fleming for volunteering on her campaign committees.  The mayor also thanked John Borden for his important contributions to the consolidation campaign in 2011.

Finally, the Flemings, and John Borden thanked the crowd for attending.  Bob Fleming ended by recounting his and Betty’s own political evolution in adopting progressive values and then becoming Democrats when they first moved to Princeton, and described how their political involvement had been an important part of their lives in the Princeton community over many years.

The Princeton Democratic Municipal Committee is composed of one man and one woman from each voting district who are elected on the primary ballot every two years, or appointed in the interim.  State law in title 19 defines the structure and essential duties of the committee.  For more information about the committee, see

Bob Fleming, Peter Wolanin, John Borden, Betty Fleming, Liz Lempert, Pat Colavita, Andrew Koontz and Rush Holt at the Princeton Democratic Municipal Committee reception.

Photo credit:  Dan Preston, Telequest Inc

( )