Princeton’s Freda launches official campaign for mayor with kickoff event

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Princeton native Mark Freda has officially kicked off his campaign for the Democratic Party’s nomination for mayor of Princeton in 2020.

As supporters gathered inside the Princeton Italian American Sportsman Club on Feb. 19, Freda’s official journey for the nomination began as he explained his campaigns priorities to those in attendance.

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Freda focused on a range of topics that included public transportation, affordable housing and road reconstruction.

“I was on the Borough Council many years ago. I have been on the sidelines and Mayor Liz Lempert is not running for re-election; if I want to do something I can either sit on the sidelines and grown about things I do not agree with or get involved,” Freda said. “My whole life has been doing things for Princeton and I want to continue to do that, so that is why I am jumping in now.”

Lempert announced in January she would not be seeking re-election as mayor with her current term set to end in December.

Freda served on the former Princeton Borough Council before Princeton Borough and Princeton Township consolidated in 2012. He served on the Princeton Borough Council from 1986 to 1999, including five years as its president.

He added that he wanted to make certain that Princeton residents feel that they have a truly representative government that encourages interaction and listens to them.

“I am around town and talk to a lot of people, not everybody agrees that they actually get listened to.  I think if people know that they are seriously listened to and things are considered, that is what people want,” Freda said. “Another top focus is just getting things done. When items are agreed to and approved they seem to take forever to finish.”

He explained that the final of his top three focuses would be affordable housing.

“We need to do affordable housing. I do not agree with all the details of the current agreement. You either believe in affordable housing or you do not, regardless of a court decision or mandate,” Freda said. “Affordable housing, public transportation, climate action are all things we should be paying attention to all of the time and not wait for an outside force.”

Freda is the only candidate so far in 2020 to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for mayor. He was the first to announce run and kickoff his official campaign. The deadline to file to run is March 30 with the primary in June.

The mayor is elected directly by the voters, and is responsible for the operation of Princeton municipal government. The mayor votes only to break a tie among the six-member Princeton Council.

“I am a strong supporter of Mark (Freda). I think he is terrific and has incredible energy. He really wants to engage the community,” said Daniel Dart, Princeton resident. “He was the right person at the right time.”

Dart added that affordability is a top topic he would want Freda to address.

“I think it is an issue for almost everybody in the community. Princeton is an expensive community and we have many people here on a fix-income,” Dart said. “I want him to be a great steward of the town’s resources.”

Supporters and residents Mary Bliss and Ginger Lennon said that affordable housing is the top topic of interest they would want addressed.

“You cannot do affordable housing the traditional way anymore, which is you buy a house and it goes up in value. The only way you can have affordable housing now is if you have rentals and does not help with social upward mobility,” Lennon said.

Freda is the president of the nonprofit Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad. He began volunteering at the squad more than 40 years ago.

Freda also has been a volunteer firefighter with the Princeton Fire Department since 1974. He was the fire chief in 1989.

“He is extremely hard working and very knowledgeable. His experience is invaluable with local government becoming increasingly complex,” said Walter Bliss, Princeton resident and husband of Mary (Bliss). “I think Mark Freda’s experience gives him perspective in addressing the challenges we face in planning for the future. He will be able to see reasonable avenues for change.”

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