Opinion: Cohen has experience, competence, compassion

The July 7 New Jersey primary election will be held with the backdrop of the COVID pandemic and massive economic uncertainties. We need to consider this backdrop as we look at Princeton’s coming election for mayor and council. Experience, proven competence and compassion are needed to help Princeton deal with these issues.

I believe that David Cohen, the Princeton Council president, embodies the qualities that we need at this difficult time. David was chosen to be council president in his first term on council – a recognition of his leadership abilities. In this role, David has led the efforts to transition to virtual and online functioning during the pandemic. One example is the speed that Princeton moved to virtual Zoom public hearings for planning, zoning and historic preservation applications. He believes in collaboration and was able to work with staff, attorneys and his council colleagues to make this transition happen quickly.

Those of us who value public participation are pleased that Princeton was one of the first municipalities to institute these important community functions after the COVID-19 shutdown began. The theme of David’s first campaign for Princeton Council was Smart Growth. He has focused his energies on making Princeton a more walkable, transit-friendly community. He understands that sustainability needs to be implemented as policy and not just talked about as a goal. He served as the council liaison to Sustainable Princeton’s Climate Action Plan and is committed to making its recommendations a reality.

As an affordable housing advocate I am confident that David will continue Princeton’s long-standing commitment to diversity and affordable housing. He served on the team that negotiated Princeton’s affordable housing settlement and I look forward to his leadership to ensure that the plan is implemented in a transparent and efficient manner.

David has lived in Princeton with his wife Liz since 1987. They have raised three children who have benefited from our public schools. They have both been active in many social justice and environmental issues.

At the present time many in our community are out of work and suffering due to the impacts of COVID-19. David’s compassion for others is evident in his decision to ask his supporters to make donations to local social service agencies rather than to his campaign. Usually campaign funds are spent on ads and lawn signs. We will not see these this year in David’s campaign; rather we who have not been financially impacted are being asked to contribute to the many efforts in town to help our neighbors to pay their rent and feed their families. This type of sensitivity and compassion is what I look for in an elected official. It is one of the many reasons that I am pleased that David Cohen is running for re-election to the Princeton Council. I believe he will continue be a great asset.

I hope you will join me in voting for him on July 7.

Kathleen Cassidy