Democrats running unopposed for seats on Princeton Council

When voters cast their ballots to fill two open seats on the Princeton Council, the choices on the ballot will include incumbent Princeton Councilwoman Eve Niedergang and her running mate, Leighton Newlin.

The two Democrats are running unopposed for a three-year term on the governing body. The Republican Party did not field candidates for the two open seats.

Niedergang is seeking her second term on the Princeton Council, while Newlin, a Princeton native, is seeking his first term. If elected, he will replace Councilman Dwaine Williamson, who is not seeking re-election.

Niedergang has lived in Princeton since 1985, when she enrolled in graduate school at Princeton University. She is the volunteer coordinator at the Watershed Institute.

Niedergang said she is proud of what she and the Princeton Council have accomplished during her first term. She said she is proud of her efforts in the areas of sustainability, helping to advance the town’s Climate Action Plan through an energy aggregation plan and helping to lead the effort to preserve and maintain the town’s open space.

In her next term, she said, she would like to ensure that the Health, Human Services and Emergency Operations departments have the resources to cope with current challenges – such as the COVID-19 pandemic – and are prepared for future challenges.

She would like to restart the food compost program, reconsider leaf and brush pickup for larger properties, and possibly institute a “pay to throw” trash collection system.

Niedergang said she wants to devote adequate resources and staff to the town’s infrastructure above and below ground, such as the streets and the sanitary and storm sewers.

She would like to continue working on the Climate Action Plan: moving toward electric vehicles and charging stations; energy audits of municipal buildings; and improvements to bicycle and pedestrian mobility and safety.

Newlin, who grew up in Princeton, is making his first run for elected office. He is retired. He has served on the Princeton Housing Authority Board of Directors for 24 years, including 19 as the board’s chairman.

Newlin is co-chairman of the Witherspoon Jackson Neighborhood Association, and also serves on the boards of the Witherspoon Jackson Historic and Cultural Society, and the Paul Robeson House.

Newlin also played a role in helping the Witherspoon Jackson neighborhood – the town’s historically Black neighborhood – to become the town’s 20th local historic district.

“As a first-time councilman and longtime resident, I am able to identify the issues,” Newlin said. “I do not have all the answers to solve Princeton’s problems, but I do trust myself to view and examine the processes, programming, policies and procedures.”

Newlin said he will ask the right questions and look at all situations through a wide-angle lens, with a narrow focus on diversity, inclusivity, equity and social justice.

The Princeton Council will face many challenges, he said. It will have to make decisions about – and plan wisely for – the issues of affordable housing and overall affordability, infrastructure, transportation, public health, human and social series, climate change, sustainability, and resiliency, he said.

Managing the town’s relationships with Princeton University and Mercer County, as well as addressing the town’s dwindling diversity, inclusion and gentrification that have “plagued” the town for at least a decade, also must be addressed, Newlin said.

Affordability is an issue for families of low to moderate incomes – and one with which he can personally identify, Newlin said. His own property taxes in the Witherspoon Jackson neighborhood have tripled over the past dozen years because of property revaluation and gentrification, he said.

Newlin said he is running for Princeton Council because he does not want to see the “soul” of Princeton – literally and figuratively – priced out of town. It is important to him that Princeton remains a town where all families can put down roots.

“I plan to do this by working in collaboration with the mayor and council and the citizens of Princeton to help us navigate into the future with common sense, good governance, accountability, honesty, transparency, and working to make Princeton better – not just for some of us, but for all of us,” Newlin said.

Election Day is Nov. 2.