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Candidate jumps into Princeton school board race

One candidate has already filed to run for the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education in November, while two incumbents remained publicly mum this week about whether they will try for another term.

With less than 20 days to go before the filing deadline for candidates to enter the race, Mary Clurman became the first to do so. Clurman, 76, filed her paperwork with the Mercer County Clerk’s Office for what will be her first bid for public office.

She is running for one of the three, three-year terms that will be on the ballot when voters go to the polls Nov. 6.

Clurman, a retired Montessori teacher, is active in local Democratic politics. She has lived in Princeton for 10 years.

“Like everybody else in Princeton, I’m here because I believe in education,” she said on July 11. “I think education is critical.”

Clurman said she had been thinking about running for the board for months. She has become a regular attendee at board meetings, although she said her candidacy is not a reaction against the proposed facilities bond referendum the district is planning to put on the ballot this fall.

“Whatever we do for the town and for the kids and for the families and for the community needs to be well thought out,” she said. “And I don’t think it is right yet.”

Clurman will be part of a field that will not include the head of the school board.

Board President Patrick Sullivan already has said he would not seek re-election to a third term. With about six years under his belt, Sullivan is the longest-serving member of the board. His departure will represent a continuing turnover on a board where the eight other Princeton members are at various stages of their first term.

The other two incumbents, Betsy Baglio and Dafna Kendal, declined to comment when asked on July 10 if they intend to run for re-election. Candidates have until the filing deadline of July 30 to enter the race.

Last year, six candidates ran for three seats in a contest that saw the political comeback of Michele Tuck-Ponder, a former mayor of Princeton Township. She won one of the seats in her return to public office.

Of late, board members have been leaving after one term. Four recent members, Tom Hagedorn, Justin Doran, Fern Spruill and Connie Witter, put in their three years and then left.

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