Three candidates vie for two Democratic nominations for Princeton Council during July 7 primary

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In otherwise low-key Democratic and Republican party primary contests set for July 7, Princeton’s registered Democratic Party voters will be asked to choose from among three candidates for the nomination to run for two open Princeton Council seats in the Nov. 3 general election.

Incumbent Princeton Council members David Cohen and Leticia Fraga are being challenged by political newcomer Dina Shaw. There is no contest for the Democratic Party nomination for mayor because Mark Freda is the sole nominee.

The Republican Party did not field candidates for the mayor or Princeton Council.

The mayor’s term is for four years and the Princeton Council seats carry three-year terms.

Also on the ballot are nominations for U.S. President, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, the Mercer County Sheriff, the Mercer County Clerk and the Mercer County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

Vote-by-mail ballots have been sent out and are due by July 7, Mercer County officials said. Mail-in ballots will be counted as long as they are postmarked by July 7 and received no later than seven days after the primary date.

In Princeton, a drop box for voters who do not want to put their ballots in the mail is in place in the courtyard in front of the Princeton municipal building at 400 Witherspoon St.

Limited polling places are available in Princeton – at the Princeton Engine Co. No. 1 firehouse at 23 Chestnut St., the Princeton Hook & Ladder Co. firehouse at 25 N. Harrison St. and the Suzanne Patterson Center at 1 Monument Dr. – for voters who choose to vote in person.

Voters should check their voting districts to determine the location of their polling place. They will be voting with provisional, or paper, ballots. Voting machines will be available for people with disabilities.

Cohen, who is seeking his second term, said he is running for re-election because many of the issues that are facing the town are issues on which he has the most to offer.

Cohen reeled off a list of those issues – implementing the town’s Climate Action Plan and working to improve the town’s land use policies to encourage “smart growth” and more sustainable development.

Cohen said he also believes some continuity in government is essential for smooth functioning, and that is another reason why he has chosen to seek re-election. There has been “enormous turnover” on the council, he said.

“There is an enormous amount of information to be mastered if one is to serve effectively, and I feel I am just beginning to get a handle on how best to work collaboratively with staff and fellow elected officials to get things done,” he said.

Fraga also is seeking a second term on the council. She is the first Latinx to serve on the Princeton Council.Her family immigrated to Washington State from Mexico when she was 12 years old.

During her first term, Fraga said, she has focused on affordability, equity, sustainability and quality of life – all of which defined her initial campaign.

Fraga said she sees a second term as a chance to amplify the momentum, goodwill and expertise that she developed in her first three-year term, “and to work alongside of colleagues – elected and volunteer – to build on our accomplishments.”

“As a first-generation immigrant and as someone who has been involved hands-on, I have a good understanding of the needs of our vulnerable and under-served population,” she said. She said she uses that perspective in applying an “equity lens” to all policies that the council considers.

Shaw, who is making her first bid for elected office, is running on a three-point platform that focuses on managing economic development; communication and inclusivity; and support for the Princeton Public Schools.

Shaw’s economic development platform calls for improving the town’s collaboration with Princeton University; promoting “creative” economic development to lower the residential property tax burden; and encouraging residents to patronize local businesses.

She also seeks to clearly communicate plans, ideas, policies and opportunities to the community through diverse platforms and languages, and to promote racial and cultural literacy, inclusion and diversity throughout the municipal government “to better understand and serve everyone in our community.”

Shaw also wants to bridge the gap between municipal government and the public school system. Moving toward a more collaborative relationship with the Princeton Public Schools would strengthen the town, she said.