PRINCETON: Mayor and council president confident, comfortable with their working relationship


Some people had the opportunity to look at the eclipse through a telescope.

By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer
In Princeton, the political conventional wisdom has held that Mayor Liz Lempert and Council President Jenny Crumiller occupy separate factions in the local Democratic Party, two women from different parts of the country with equally different styles.
Mayor Lempert, a California transplant, hails from the old Princeton Township, known for a reserved, don’t-air-your-dirty-laundry way of doing business without the public disagreements that characterized municipal government in the former Princeton Borough, where Delaware-native Crumiller lives.
But at her final press conference of the year Monday, the mayor, seated next to Crumiller, sought to put to rest any notion of political tensions between them.
“I’ve never felt that way,” Mayor Lempert said in winding down 2017 with Crumiller wrapping up her first, but possibly not last, stint as council president. In their remarks, the two women laughed, recalled fond moments from their shared political past and touched on their working relationship.
The mayor remembered starting her “local political career initially opposed to Jenny,” in the Democratic presidential primary pitting then-Sen. Hillary Clinton against Sen. Barack Obama; the mayor was for Obama and Crumiller was for Clinton at a point in their lives when neither woman held elected office. Afterward, they worked to help Obama win the White House, in 2008.
“And I think that will remain one of my favorite campaigns that I’ve ever worked on, ever. And, in part, it was because it was working with Jenny,” the mayor said. “We really had a great time.”
“Yeah, we really did,” Crumiller said, “and we do still.”
Mayor Lempert said the two women “share a lot of values” and a vision “for the challenges that are facing the community.”
“And I think we trust each other too,” the mayor said, “about having the best intentions for trying to tackle those challenges.”
The mayor said that while they do not agree on everything, “Jenny’s great to work with and she’s been a great council president.”
At times, however, they have found themselves in opposing camps. Notably, that occurred in 2014, in the Democratic primary for council in which they were backing different candidates. Crumiller’s side won out that year, but as the calendar turns to 2018, the two women find themselves part of a municipal government that is evolving.
In January, newcomers David Cohen and Leticia Fraga will take the council seats now held by Council members Jo S. Butler and Bernard P. Miller — two central figures in that 2014 primary. Counting Councilman Tim Quinn, half the six-member council will be made up of people with one year or less of municipal experience.
“I think it’s going to be a really good balance of experience and newness,” Crumiller said of next year’s group.
For her part, Crumiller said she wanted to remain council president. Cohen said Monday that she has done a “great job” and that he is unaware “if anyone else is interested in the position.”