Jo Butler's Statement (June 2010 primary)

I want to thank the PCDO for this opportunity to once again ask for your support in the Borough Council Primary on Tuesday, June 8.

 

As many of you know, I have been meeting constituents at campaign events and by going door to door. One question I am often asked is, “Why are you running?”   To answer that, I reflect on my family’s decision to move to Princeton nearly fifteen years ago.  We needed to move from Center City Philadelphia to somewhere in the greater New York area.  It was important to us to be in a diverse, multi-cultural community that valued education over bank balances, that had a vibrant downtown within walking distance, and that had sidewalks, running paths and cultural opportunities.  We felt then, and continue to feel now, that Princeton is truly a unique community.  I am running because I want to help Princeton remain an attractive, desirable and affordable community for other young families and all who want to live here.

 

Other questions often asked are, “How are you different than your opponents?” or “What will you bring to the position?”  Having earned an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business, I am the only candidate with a background in finance.  I currently work for Wickenden Associates, an educational consulting firm specializing in Head of School searches.  One of the most important tasks facing the next person elected to the Borough Council will be hiring a replacement for Bob Bruschi, the Borough Administrator who is slated to retire at the end of 2011, and I believe that my expertise in high-level searches and my background in finance will be valuable skills in that process.

 

Since my arrival in Princeton, I have been an active community volunteer.  In addition to volunteering extensively at my children’s schools, I served for ten years on the Friends of the Princeton Public Library (www.princetonlibrary.org).  When citizens were concerned about the revaluations of their homes, I worked quickly with colleagues at the Library to set up day, evening and weekend sessions to offer guidance and resources for homeowners to challenge their revaluations.  I also serve on the board of People & Stories/Gente y Cuentos (www.peopleandstories.org), a program in English and Spanish that creates public, grassroots access to literature.

 

Residents of all neighborhoods are concerned about property taxes and the impact of the revaluation.  Understandably, seniors on a fixed income are worried about their ability to remain in Princeton.  As Chair of the Citizens Finance Advisory Taskforce, I have been working hard to make our budget more transparent and bring the plight of Borough taxpayers to the attention of the Council.  This year the Council has proposed a budget that does not include a tax increase for the Borough portion of our tax obligation, and I believe that CFAT made a difference in the process.  In addition to more transparency, CFAT is advocating for the creation of five- to ten-year budget projections which we believe will help in the overall financial management of the Borough.

 

If elected, I will recommend the formation of a blue-ribbon panel of Princeton residents to study Princeton University’s Payment in Lieu of Taxes and make recommendations for a long-term meaningful solution.  The agreement currently in place, and approved by the Council, is based on a paper written by former Mayor Joe O’Neill (www.jobutler.com) .  We need to understand why that agreement no longer meets the changing needs of the town.  We also need to define what a fair share would be.  I would like to see the study of other comparable town/gown arrangements in order to determine what is fair.  I don’t believe that simply calling on the University to pay 100 percent of taxes they have no legal obligation to pay moves the conversation forward.  Once we have collected the relevant data, the panel will be in the position to make a recommendation that can serve as a starting point for meaningful negotiations with the University.

 

I support the study of consolidation of the Township and Borough.  I believe consolidation is important for reasons not simply limited to finances.  We need to plan together as one community on issues such as transportation, public health, and disaster preparedness.  Route 206 and SR 27 move through both Borough and Township. H1N1 and other public health threats can be dealt with most efficiently by cooperation between the Borough and Township.  The storm this past March did not discriminate between trees in the Borough and trees in the Township.  In these challenging times, we need to work together to set priorities for the larger community.  If the citizens agree that consolidation is critical, I believe that I have the ability to reach out to all stakeholders in both communities and work collaboratively with our colleagues in the Township to complete this very challenging task.

 

Finally, I will work to improve the use of technology to deliver services more efficiently to residents.  I would expand our voluntary email list and advocate more active use to notify residents about changes in trash pick-up, traffic patterns or emergency alerts.  I believe we can use our website to greater advantage.  I would like to see more Borough documents, including the budget, available on the website.  We have the ability to be much more transparent through technology, something I believe will increase citizen participation.  I would like to see us add video to the website.  Imagine, for example, Sustainable Princeton demonstrating creating a compost bin or the Arts Council showcasing a program.  The Borough announced recently that they will save $40,000 by changing the lighting in the Library garage.  Let’s get that posted on the website!  Homeowners can use that information in their own homes, and it lets residents know that their government is being responsive.  The only limit is our imagination.

 

I think it is time for a fresh perspective on the Borough Council.  With your support, I will work hard to be the sort of servant leader Princetonians deserve. 

 

I have two remaining campaign events this coming week.  One event is in the morning, and the other is in the evening, both in the eastern section of town.  If you would like to attend, please contact me through my website www.jobutler.comor by calling 468-0462.

 

Thank you for your consideration.  See you at the polls on June 8!

 

Sincerely,

Jo Butler

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