Editor’s Note

Seldom in life is everything cut and dry. Life is often more of a balancing act. Trying to pit wants vs. needs, help vs. harm, others vs. yourself. I could go on, but I think you get the point. Especially after last week’s elections, which saw some voting in an effort to get what they want while others were voting to prevent what they don’t want.

This month’s Princeton Perspectives sorts through some of these ideas in Finding the Right Balance, Around Town and in Life. Everyday decisions, from how to put together your Thanksgiving meal to how Princeton should put together its Master Plan, involves balance.

Before we get into the new information, take a look at our Perspectives Revisited, which shares about the latest aid Princeton is receiving to help with continued recovery post pandemic and offers details on which local NJ Hall of Fame nominees just got inducted.

For this issue we asked several locals if they were planning for the future of the Princeton area, what would they like to see? From shopping to eating, layout and more, local residents shared their thoughts, which you can see in our Pulse of Princeton video.

Next week, people across America are going to be celebrating Thanksgiving. So, How Do Locals Balance Flavors, Food and Guests at the Thanksgiving Meal? We wanted to know what people in our area prefer. Chefs and local eatery owners provided some insight to compliment the thoughts and feelings many locals provided us. This article will get you hungry and might also provide some good ideas for your Thanksgiving meal, too!

Sadly, what’s meant to be a joyous time can also be a stressful time if you’re the one putting it all together. To help, try to plan ahead, cook in advance and let whatever happens, happen. Sometimes it’s just managing stress but it’s no secret the pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of many. The good news is that people are talking about it and trying to be more proactive with help. This goes for our schools as well. How Princeton Public Schools are Reacting to Student Mental Health vs. Workload Stress details some of the reactive and proactive things the district is doing for students, both throughout this remaining school year and into the future.

Looking at the future is what the municipality of Princeton has been trying to do this year as it works to rewrite the Master Plan. A guide for planning various aspect of municipal life, those in charge have to balance people’s desires with what the roadways, buildings and more have dictated are needed. Creating a Master Plan that Balances the Needs of All Involved delves into what the Master Plan is, its history and how officials are working to balance everyone’s desires and move it forward.

Speaking of a plan, is it possible to know when to list your house or buy a new one? Many don’t have a choice, as a job or school may dictate the need to move. This year, we’re nearing a possible recession, inflation has skyrocketed and mortgage prices have gone up. How does this all affect the balance of sales vs. purchases of homes in town? How Balanced is the Princeton Real Estate Market? tells us more.

The articles have range, but we hope they provide some balance between your interests, what’s happening around town and a desire to educate you on things you might not have even been aware of.

Finding the right balance isn’t always easy, and it often takes work. But it can be rewarding. We hope you’ll reward yourself this Thanksgiving by spending time with those you love, eating foods that bring you joy and taking some time for yourself (maybe even some time to read through this entire issue!).

Our readership has been growing each month, and that’s in part thanks to you. Please continue to forward the latest issue, talk about our articles and know that no matter what, Princeton Perspectives is here to provide all sides to a story, in an unbiased way, to enlighten and educate our community. We hope we’re writing about what matters to you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Pulse of Princeton: If you were planning for the future of the Princeton area, what would you like to see?

How Do Locals Balance Flavors, Food and Guests at the Thanksgiving Meal?

When you look forward to your Thanksgiving feast, are you dreaming of the turkey or the sides? Do you get through the meal for the dessert or are you savoring every bite you eat? When planning a Turkey-Day menu, there are a lot of things to consider, ensuring your guests leave full and satisfied. What is the right balance? While most would agree on some basic needs, there are some nuances.

It’s About the Sides

Princeton Perspectives got feedback from more than 60 locals, all of whom care deeply for their Thanksgiving meal. While a turkey on the table has become synonymous with Thanksgiving, it turns out 81% of those we heard from favor their sides over the bird. “Probably 20% meat, 30% veggies, 50% starch,” one respondent put it.

If you are planning a full vegan or vegetarian meal, the sides become even more important. Sweet potato souffle, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing (cornbread or sausage were stated favorites), brussel sprouts, green bean casserole and cranberry sauce topped people’s preferences. Some eat their foods separately, and for others it’s the “smoosh” of eating it all together that makes it great! What makes these sides even more special? Several that took our survey said they are once-a-year treats.

“Sweet potato casserole with marshmallows on top is my favorite! I never make it outside of Thanksgiving and it sits right next to me at the table,” admits Nessa Tallo. And Pam Adler confesses, “I like to keep it traditional and always look forward to mashed potatoes. I don’t eat them any other time.”

While most prefer starches to vegetables, some believe you can’t have one without the other.

“Stuffing, turkey and gravy are number one, but there also needs to be vegetables. String beans, roasted root veggies, and salad. Something green on the plate is a must. And of course, cranberry sauce,” Dane Dickler explains.

Family heritages play a big role, too.

“Offering both Italian and American sides, starters… antipasti, zuppa, salads, cheese, salumi,” Raoul Momo says of his family’s meal. As co-owner of Terra Momo Restaurant Group, he puts many family favorites, some served at Teresa Cafe and Mediterra, onto the table. “Lots of Italian dishes like lasagna, tortellini in brodo, involtini di melanzane (a/k/a eggplant rollatini) along with the traditional Thanksgiving dinner turkey, stuffing with sausage, mashed sweet potatoes baked with pineapple.”

Danielle Mack told Princeton Perspectives, there’s a similar trend at her family’s table. “My Italian mom will always have antipasta, burrata and some kind of pasta as earlier courses before turkey. So definitely everything that isn’t turkey is a highlight for me.”

Sweet vs. Savory?

When planning your side dishes, what should the balance be between sweet and savory? Nearly 60% of respondents desire a balance of both…but if you had to pick one, savory wins out, 24 to 1 (many recommend saving the sweets for dessert, which we’ll get to later!).

Personal preference of the chef and family traditions tend to dictate what will be served, but there are some general guidelines, shares Shelley Wiseman, chef, author and owner of Shelley’s Table, which offers international cooking classes & culinary adventures.

“Whether you are a turkey person or not, there should always be enough sides to satisfy vegetarians, vegans and other diets, which are so prevalent these days—a son’s new girlfriend might be joining the table! While sweet potatoes or yams are a must, you might change up the marshmallows-on-top with a savory version (*see recipe below),” Wiseman details. “If not everyone is in love with brussels sprouts, but they are still a must have, try shredding them ahead on a manual slicer and lightly sautéing them for a lighter, crowd-pleasing flavor. Add a drizzle of apple vinegar at the end and some toasted nuts to liven them up.”

Even with all of these amazing side dishes, it does appear that most homes wouldn’t consider it Thanksgiving without serving a turkey as well.

Turkey on the Table

“People get either whole turkeys, or we also do a boneless turkey breast that’s easier to deal with, easier to cut, but a lot of people do like the traditional whole turkey. We cook them fresh that morning so all you have to do is heat them up,” shares Adam Angelakis, co-owner of Olives, where his staff arrives early on Thanksgiving Day to prepare fresh meals for local pick-up. “We’re here from 3am cooking fresh turkeys and making the stuffing.”

Whether you buy it cooked or make it yourself, be sure to serve both white and dark meat, to suit everyone’s needs. And don’t forget to save the carcass (some guests find that to be their favorite part!). Guidelines suggest 1-2 pounds of turkey per guest (don’t worry about cooking one too large, as the leftovers are even better). Wiseman offers some guidance on how to cook your turkey to perfection:

Roasting time…

For a 10 to 16-pound bird:

At 450°F: about 10 minutes per pound (a 12-pound bird will take about 2 hours)

At 350°F: about 18 to 20 minutes per pound

For an 18 to 25-pound bird:

At 450°F: about 7 minutes per pound

At 350°F: about 13 to 15 minutes per pound

Internal temperature when removing from oven: at least 165°F in thigh (check in several places: the temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees while resting, then fall again as it starts to cool). And always let meat rest before carving so the juices redistribute into the fibers of the meat.

Resting time: 20 to 30 minutes loosely covered with foil

“Looking for balance in the menu means balance of color and texture, as well as taste, and consider a balance of cooking methods so you don’t find yourself with everything needing to be in the oven or on the stove, or too many things being last minute. My best tip though, is to get family to bring some of the dishes, so you don’t have to do it all yourself!” Wiseman provides.

Don’t Forget Dessert

Many love to bring along a favorite dessert and once the main course is complete, that’s what everyone is looking forward to. No matter how full, there always seems to be room.

“All diets are off that day,” Angelakis states, as Olive’s prepares many sweets for Thanksgiving. “No one forgets about dessert. We do a lot of dessert. We sell traditional pies and also do lemon merengue, chocolate mousse pie, other specialty desserts. By far the most popular is pumpkin, it’s the favorite.”

Princeton locals agree, with 36% sharing a preference for pumpkin pie. Apple and pecan came in second with some suggesting cookies or something chocolate instead.

“A plate full of stuffing and pumpkin pie is the most perfect plate there ever was or ever could be, in my opinion!” someone shared anonymously on the survey.

So, it seems there’s a majority consensus that you should balance your sweets vs. savory side dishes, serve them along with some turkey and be sure to include pumpkin pie on your dessert tray. But who will you be sharing it with and when is the best time to eat?

Who is at Your Table?

Nearly 60% of those on our survey said they enjoy Thanksgiving meal with family, though almost 20% incorporate family and friends at the same table. For timing, our restaurant and cooking experts recommend an afternoon feast, providing for enough appetizers to get one started for a later afternoon sit down meal.

However you choose to put it all together, there is no right or wrong way to prepare or plan your day. Just be sure that you balance all of your efforts with some relaxation and enjoyment with your loved ones.

Creating a Master Plan that Balances the Needs of All Involved

For several weeks around Princeton, you may have seen a sign like this, encouraging participation in the latest survey for the Master Plan. It had been mentioned weekly in the Princeton Municipal Newsletter, in the weekly update from Princeton Public Library, it was on counters at downtown retail checkout areas, even included in informational emails from local religious institutions. It is fair to say it was unlikely that you hadn’t seen some sort of request from Princeton to take a survey about the Community Master Plan. Yet many may still be left wondering what a Master Plan is, what role they have in it and what it means for Princeton.

What is a Master Plan?

For simplicity purposes, let’s compare the Master Plan to a travel map. Today, most people have Waze, Google or Apple Maps. You get in your car, plug in the address for where you are headed, and instantly get turn-by-turn directions loaded to the screen. Sadly, the technology for mapping out the future plans of a municipality isn’t quite as advanced as that on your iPhone. Rather, it’s a bit more like the “olden days” when AAA helped you research the location you were headed to, included options for where you could bike or walk instead of drive, get gas, even figuring out some fun stops along the way and printed you a AAA TripTik to help you get there (this is available on your phone now, too!). This literal roadmap ensures that you don’t miss anything, providing overall guidance with a clear plan of where you are headed and what you need to do to arrive.

According to the Princeton Community Master Plan website, “a Master Plan is a long-range document that guides a community’s growth and development, taking into account its unique challenges and opportunities.” It includes details such as how the community wants certain areas to develop (the same or differently), zoning expectations for different locations and neighborhoods, ideas about travel (roadways, bike lanes, etc.), preservation (open space), public uses (within parks and other areas), and additional theoretical and technical ideas.

Per New Jersey law, every municipality must have one. Princeton has decided that in order to properly map out its path for the next 10 years, it must heavily weigh community input. Two surveys have been put out so far to local residents, to gather feedback that will help direct the Master Plan rewrite that is underway. The first went out over the summer on economic growth (the Princeton Consumer Survey) and the second, as seen above, just closed last week and was about the community vision. There was also a Princeton University Student Consumer Survey. To some, it appears the Master Plan is a compilation of people’s hopes and dreams for the future, and in some ways it is. But it is intended to provide specific guidance on local decisions to allow the town to get there, and technically falls under the authority of the Planning Board, which mainly follows zoning codes around town.

“It’s more than just land use because it is tied into so many things,” shares Justin Lesko, Princeton’s Acting Planning Director/Senior Planner. “Even if you’re not interested in planning this legal document, you still can be interested in taking part and contributing to it because it touches upon open space, recreation, how we get around, cars, e-bikes, mass transit, historic presentation, green building and sustainability, etc. It’s not just something I am going to type up that is going to sit on a shelf and never gets looked at.”

Being able to read, understand and utilize the Master Plan better enables the Zoning Board to ensure that permits granted to new buildings are in line with what the town wants in that area, and that when Council creates new ordinances, they have guidance based on input from many factions of the community.

“The Master Plan will inform decision-makers on Princeton’s attitudes about how it wants to grow. The decision-makers include the appointed members of the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment, who decide whether land-use applications conform to community values and attitudes as articulated in the Master Plan; and Mayor and Council, who make policy decisions and adopt zoning ordinances, which are informed by the Master Plan,” explains Tim Quinn, who chairs the Planning Board’s Master Plan Subcommittee, is Planning Board Vice Chair and ex-officio member of the Master Plan Steering Committee.

New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law requires that the Master Plan is reexamined and adopted every ten years. Princeton last did a complete overhaul in 1996. It did make updates to elements of the plan in 2001, 2007, 2017 and 2020 (the Housing and Green Building and Sustainability elements adopted that year will be incorporated into the new plan).

Why is the Master Plan important?

“It’s like getting in your car and looking at a map from 30 years ago. Would you use that map and try to take a trip and go somewhere?” questioned Councilwoman Mia Sacks, Planning Board member and Council Liaison to the Master Plan Steering Committee.

Unfortunately, the Princeton government has been utilizing an outdated “map” for far too many years. Though there were some updates made since 1996, the essential community input remains and must be reworked to address what is needed and wanted today.

“The town’s current Master Plan was so out of date that it had become a relic of where we’ve been, rather than a roadmap of where we want to go. With all the outdated, excess, extraneous material, it had become difficult to navigate the existing plan, let alone to comprehend!” explains Councilwoman Sacks with Councilman David Cohen, Planning Board member and member of the Master Plan Subcommittee. “Creating a streamlined, organized, highly readable document that the average lay person can easily access is a top priority.”

At the end of October, a Mercer County Superior Court judge overturned an approved townhouse development intended on Humbert Street, citing that the variances granted by Princeton’s Planning Board would change the character of the area as it is intended in the zoning ordinance. Maybe the current ordinance is consistent with the community’s desires for that area, and it shouldn’t be home to townhouses. Or perhaps an updated Master plan will show a desire to change the zoning provisions, allowing the buildings? This is just one such example of how zoning plans guide what can be done on specific properties.

When Zoning regulations more accurately reflect the current built reality of an area of town, neighborhood visioning and land use review go much more smoothly. A major focus of the Master Plan is to identify critical areas where this sort of correction is needed,” Sacks and Cohen add. “The Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood (WJN), where most of the existing structures are nonconforming, is a prime example. Until corrective action is taken, it will remain more expensive and cumbersome for the current residents of the WJN to make even the smallest modifications or additions to their houses.”

How is the new Master Plan getting created?

The re-examined Master Plan officially falls under the helm of the Planning Board who will ultimately vote on the final plan. Within this board falls the Master Plan Subcommittee, which was first tasked with hiring contractors to help craft the document – JGSC Group helped with economic development, Susan G Blickstein, LLC with community engagement and Clarke Caton Hintz (CCH) which is guiding the process and ultimately drafts the new Master Plan. These processes are all to take place with guidance from the Master Plan Steering Committee, a 13-member group comprised of stakeholders across the community.

“The Steering Committee members have been selected specifically with an eye toward representing a wide range of stakeholder and interest groups, to ensure that no single point of view is disproportionately favored in the process,” explain Sacks and Cohen.

The Steering Committee also serves to ensure that things move along, with monthly meetings (open to the public via Zoom or through YouTube recordings) created to guide the process and not manage the content.

Interestingly, though Council will be implementing and using it as a guide when creating certain policies and ordinances, Council does not have to approve the updated Master Plan. Two Council members, Sacks and Cohen, sit on the Planning Board (and subsequently are part of the Steering Committee), and Mayor Mark Freda is also a member of the Steering Committee. Yet, no specific guidance is being given towards the new plan from the sitting officials beyond the opportunities granted to everyone in the community.

So, who is contributing most to the direction of the new Master Plan? You! Every effort is being made to ensure that anyone that wants to share their thoughts, concerns and desires, has a chance to do so. In addition to the opportunity to attend Steering Committee meetings, locals have and will be invited to take part in community surveys and are requested at open houses (the first of which will be at Princeton Public Library November 30th from 4-7pm).

The first community survey, put out this summer, received approximately 4,000 responses with about 75% from Princeton residents. This amounts to approximately 10% of the local population taking part. For the most recent community survey, despite intense outreach, preliminary results indicate there were 896 responses. 88% of the respondents said they lived in Princeton (less than 3% of the population). Is this enough input to go on?

“We will want to know that survey responses came from every geographic area; from people of various ages, ethnicities and gender identities; from old-timers and newcomers; people in different types of housing, with a variety of income levels, etc. That data will tell us if the survey successfully reached a broad cross-section of Princeton,” says Louise Wilson, Princeton Planning Board chair and member of the Master Plan Steering Committee, further adding that the Steering Committee will explore these demographics.

Is the necessary input being received?

Still, some residents wonder how much of their feedback is going to translate into the new Master Plan.

“We love it here and love being near the university campus, but I don’t feel they’re being upfront with what’s going on. The survey is way too long and very vague. Can they actually bring in more pizza restaurants than coffee shops? People go to landlords, not the town,” resident Jessica Vieira poses to Princeton Perspectives. “We currently have zoning plans in place that they’re not adhering to. They took down the historic Tennent Roberts Whiteley Buildings at the Princeton Seminary and I’m pretty sure that’s not zoned for multi-family housing. It’s dormitory living, very different than it will be with people with cars in dwellings.”

Those involved hope the new Master Plan will ease this type of concern, for with current and modern desires better outlined, the decisions made by municipal officials and boards shouldn’t conflict with what’s in the books. As for transparency, some say those guiding the Master Plan are being as open as possible – with all public meetings and a triumphant effort to gather community feedback.

“Get involved. If you didn’t get a chance to fill out the first or second surveys, please come to the Nov. 30 Open House at Princeton Public Library. There will be a third survey building off the results of the Visioning Survey (the second survey, which closed Nov. 6). It is very important that every voice to be heard because this plan will shape what our town will become,” Quinn notes.

In addition, there is hope that beyond the surveys and open houses, additional input gathered from the continued outreach to the community will add to the vision. Lesko and CCH consultants are planning meetings with all Boards, Committees and Commissions, at many community events, with local religious institutions, nonprofit organizations and other groups that have interests and concerns about the Master Plan. And they request that anyone else that wants a meeting reach out to arrange one. Once this data is compiled, organizers will move onto the next steps.

How does the Master Plan move forward?

“This winter, the consultant team will synthesize what we’ve heard and learned and begin to form outlines of updated Master Plan ‘elements’ to present to the Steering Committee,” lays out Wilson. “In the first quarter of next year, there will be a third community survey based on findings to date, and another in-person Open House. We also expect to host a virtual Open House in early 2023. The updated plan elements will be vetted and refined in the spring, and we hope and expect the Planning Board will adopt the updated Master Plan next summer after final, formal public hearings before the Board.”

It is important to note that Master Plans come together differently in different towns. Some are created by the elected officials or municipal staff. Though Lesko, a municipal employee, is overseeing things and there are representatives from these groups on Princeton’s Planning Board and the Steering Committee, the process here is mainly lay led. The plan is also being guided by CCH, which has worked with many municipalities including Hamilton, Lawrence and created Master Plans for Wildwood, Moorestown, Asbury Park and others around NJ.

“The key to having a good Master Plan consultant is that they are able to balance the community’s voice with the technical requirements that staff advises on,” Lesko explains. “That balance is one of the reasons that Clarke Caton Hintz was chosen by the Master Plan subcommittee of the Planning Board as our consultant and CCH has demonstrated that in dozens of communities in NJ.”

The leadership hopes that by next summer Princeton will have compiled its updated Community Master Plan. The timing is tight, with a lot of variables and inputs being considered. Trying to figure out and find the balance of what Princeton is, what people want it to be and leading to that point is the goal of it all.

“Some think of it as a college town, which it is, but in a very different way than, say, a Big 10 town. For others, it is a bedroom community for commuters to New York, which it is, but not the way Westchester County or Greenwich, Connecticut, are. Some see it as a small city, which, again, it sort of is and sort of isn’t. Others, particularly some of the people who grew up here or who have been here longer than I have, idealize it as small town, one that was certainly experienced differently if you grew up in Witherspoon Jackson or Jugtown, as opposed to the Western Section. The challenge of this Master Plan is to forge consensus on a way forward out of these multiple and distinctive views of what Princeton is and should become,” Quinn points out.

It is the hope that by making sure as many voices as possible are involved will make the updated Master Plan more legitimate, easier to follow and a better guide for what the community wants going forward.

To stay on top of what is happening next, find out about open houses, surveys or provide comment at Planning Board meetings, you can always check out engage.princetonmasterplan.org, or register for updates at the bottom of the homepage. Of course, keep reading Princeton Perspectives to learn about any major actions that are taken in the future.

Editor’s Note

I got back into local journalism a few years ago, frustrated by the fact that there was nowhere to learn about the many local candidates that would appear on my ballot. Sure, I might have seen an ad or an editorial, but I wasn’t finding any information about a candidate’s experience, plans for office, and no unsolicited information to help sway my vote. So, I wrote an article about some. Now, I dedicate every October issue to informing you as a voter. This issue of Princeton Perspectives marks the 3rd annual elections issue.

As a journalist, I work hard to provide unbiased information, which can be hard when talking politics. If I feel one side needs a chance to speak out, I also provide that opportunity to the other. This month’s issue will not only shed light on where and how to vote and who you can vote for, but it will also provide you with an opportunity to better understand those in your party and that align with the opposite party from you – also those that don’t align at all.

Before we get into politics, we wanted to update some stories that we’ve covered for you in the past. Have a special pup you like to walk outside? There’s some amazing news about a dog park that you can read about in our Perspectives Revisited below. We’ve also got some updated information on how the town has chosen to make a newly renovated intersection even safer. Read on to learn more.

As always, I went into town this month to get some comments from locals, as a way to add perspective to our magazine. I normally have people clamoring to speak with me, but this month was different. First, I encountered many local residents who are not citizens and therefore can’t vote. Second, many people were resistant to speak publicly about their political views. I asked people what sways them as a voter, and we did find some that were willing to share. You can see what they have to say in the Pulse of Princeton video.

And now, onto the juicy details about the election. Though some may have already done their civic duty by voting by mail, many will be heading to the polls later this month and in November. So, it’s important to know Where Do I Vote, Who is Running and What Does Each Candidate Stand For? This article provides all of that information so you can vote informed.

Beyond the ballots, understanding political nuances and viewpoints can lead to greater understanding of your friend, family member or neighbor and enlightened citizens make good citizens. So, in this issue we’re providing information from the three major perspectives, the Democrat, the Republican and the Independent voter.

The Realities and Impact of the Independent Voter breaks down what it is like to live in Princeton and not align with a political party. Do Independent voters still have an impact on elections? Read on to find out.

In Princeton, there hasn’t been a Republican candidate in office in many years and one hasn’t even been on the ticket for a few. Does that mean Republican views and opinions don’t matter in town? The Dissolution of Debate in 2022, A Republican Perspective explains why they do.

On the opposite side of the aisle, A Local Democrat Looks Towards November to provide insight into what matters as you head to the polls.

I hope you find this information as useful as I do. Politics can be confusing, divisive but can also be wonderful. The more you learn and understand, the more of an impact you can have. Happy reading!

The Pulse of Princeton: What’s swaying your vote?

Where Do I Vote, Who is Running and What Does Each Candidate Stand For?

2022 is considered an “off” year for many political races, as there are no Presidential, U.S. Senatorial, or State Senate or Assembly contests on the ballot (with a couple of minor exceptions in other NJ districts). But that does not mean you should skip voting, as your choices will help shape the U.S. House of Representatives, county and municipal government and the school board. Trenton is voting for Mayor and its entire City Council, so “off” years can hold a lot of weight locally. Additionally, if you live in Robbinsville or Trenton there are local questions on the ballot to weigh in on as well.

On November 8, 2022, the polls will be open providing an opportunity for you to cast your vote in the general election. Election day, which once stood as the only opportunity to have your voice heard, is now more symbolic than necessary, as voters will also have a chance to vote in person during early voting from October 29th through November 6th or to cast a Mail-in Ballot anytime until November 8th.

If you have recently moved or for another reason have not yet registered to vote in New Jersey, you still have a little time to do so. The deadline for voter registration is October 18th.

As we have for the past two years, Princeton Perspectives wants to help ensure that you are an informed voter. So, read on to find out where to vote, who is running and what each candidate stands for.


In an effort to allow voters a chance to vote when it is most convenient, *seven locations have been set up for the Early Voting Period and you have the ability to cast your vote in any of these locations (Note – there is some variation from last year and there is *again a location in Princeton this year):

  • *Princeton Shopping Center, 301 N. Harrison St., Princeton, NJ 
  • Mercer County Library – Hickory Corner Branch, 138 Hickory Corner Rd., East Windsor, NJ
  • Mercer County Office Park – 1440 Parkside Ave., Ewing, NJ 
  • Colonial Firehouse Company, 801 Kuser Rd., Hamilton, NJ
  • Mercer County Library – Lawrence Headquarters Branch, 2751 Brunswick Pike (at Darrah Lane), Lawrence, NJ
  • Pennington Fire Company, 120 Broemel Place, Pennington, NJ
  • Trenton Firehouse Headquarters, 244 Perry St., Trenton, NJ

*Edited 10/27/22, after new lease was obtained for a Princeton location.

These polling sites will be open October 29th – November 6th, Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

However, on election day there is only one polling site you are allowed to go to. You can look up your polling location at this link or check out the sample ballot you’ve received in the mail, which will clearly state where you are designated to vote. There are nine sites throughout Princeton, based on your residency location, so make sure you head to the correct one. You can vote at the polls November 8th from 6am-8pm.

Additionally, if you want to cast a Mail-In Ballot, it must be postmarked by November 8th. The deadline to apply for a Mail-In Ballot through the mail is November 1st, but you can go in person to apply until November 7th. Two drop box locations have been set up in Princeton, at the Princeton Municipal Building (400 Witherspoon St.) and at Princeton University Wawa/Dinky Station (on Alexander St.) with 17 other drop boxes located throughout Mercer County. You can see the full list here and they will also be printed on your ballot.

“The reason we offer three different ways to vote is because our Legislature and Governor passed laws expressly making it more convenient for citizens to exercise this important right to vote,” shares Paula Sollami-Covello, Mercer County Clerk. “Voters can plan when to vote and determine which method works best for their schedule.”


To be an educated voter, it’s also good to know that there are two changes to the NJ elections this year.

Every voting district now has to print out the ballots, so there is more accurate reporting when results are tallied. Also, polls do not have to be closed for counting to begin. Five days before election day, the Mercer Board of Elections will be able to begin counting ballots which is anticipated to allow most votes to be tallied before the end of Election Night. All votes cast, whether through early voting, Mail-In, at the voting booth on election day or provisional ballot will be counted as long as the voter is registered and eligible. Votes that arrive by mail (postmarked by Nov. 8th) will be counted, until November 14th.

So, who will be on your ballot when you vote?


Princeton Council Candidates: Michele Pirone Lambros (D) and Mia Sacks (D)

There are two candidates vying for two open seats on Princeton Council, running for three-year terms on the six-member Council. Like last year, they are both running unopposed to join the all-Democrat Council, with no other parties present on the ticket. What is different this year is that both candidates are also incumbents. Your vote demonstrates support, but there is no minimum vote required for them to win.

Michele Pirone Lambros is running for her second term on Council and maintaining socio-economic diversity remains her primary goal.

“As a second-generation Italian American, this loss strikes a chord with me personally and is the main reason I chose to run for Council and I have decided to seek a second term,” shares Pirone Lambros. “In order to assure we maintain and support greater diversity in our town we need to eliminate exclusionary zoning practices, we need to build more affordable housing, and we need to have more middle-income housing – both rentals and for sale properties. There is no singular path forward that will have all the solutions, it must be a multi-pronged strategy of finding ways to incentivize smart growth development without increasing the financial burden on taxpayers.”

Additionally, her focus on economic development and the commercial interests in town, she says, is also an effort to offset the residential tax burden. Pirone Lambros credits her work over the past few years towards helping local businesses.

“I spearheaded the COVID response to help support our small businesses. This work and the team building it engendered, culminated in the formation this year of a Special Improvement District for Princeton,” Pirone Lambros explains. “Having the business community come together to fund their own self-help program will be transformative for our town and I am proud to be shepherding this effort which will be a milestone in our town’s history.”

Pirone Lambros has deep roots in Princeton, her grandfathers were some of the earliest Italian immigrants that came here from Pettoranello, working as stone masons and landscapers at Princeton University.

Mia Sacks is running for her second term on Council. She also has family roots in Princeton and hopes to continue expanding the socio-economic diversity of town to allow older residents to age-in-place and younger adults to afford and choose Princeton to raise their families. Sacks has been involved in many facets of municipal stewardship throughout her term including consolidating departments to streamline services, securing open space to expand Princeton’s Emerald Necklace, storm water and sewer infrastructure updates and looking ahead as Council representative on both the Princeton Planning Board and Master Plan Steering Committee.

“We have convened a public process for comprehensive review of the town’s Master Plan. An updated Plan, reflecting our residents’ core values, will provide a much-needed guide for municipal decisionmakers as we navigate the impact of growth in Princeton and in the communities surrounding us,” Sacks states.

In a second term, Sacks intends to continue working on the many issues that confront Princeton, and to do so in an engaged and prepared manner.

“Rather than coming to decisions with a preconceived agenda or notion of what is right, I have worked to keep an open mind and to spend many, many hours listening to Princeton residents with a variety of backgrounds and political perspectives,” Sacks expresses. “I also spend a great deal of time absorbing relevant written material that residents send me to read and incorporate conversations with municipal staff and professional experts who may hold differing opinions, as well as elected officials in other towns facing similar issues.”

Princeton Public Schools (PPS) Board of Education Candidates: Debbie Bronfeld, Susan Kanter, Dafna Kendal, Margarita “Rita” Rafalovsky and Lishian Lisa Wu

The 10-member Board of Education has three seats opening up in Princeton for 2023. Three incumbents are trying to keep their seats. Hoping to unseat them are newcomer Margarita “Rita” Rafalovksy and Lishian Lisa Wu, who has run for public office in the past. The terms are all for three years.

Debbie Bronfeld is seeking her third term on Princeton’s Board of Education. She had two children go through Princeton Public Schools. With previous work experience in accounting, manufacturing and nonprofits, Bronfeld feels her experience on the Board will be a strong asset for the future.

“I have 6 years of hands-on experience and historical perspective from being a board member. I’ve served on Operations, Student Achievement, Personnel (chair) and Equity committees (co-chair) so I understand how the district functions,” Bronfeld details. “My 6 years of experience provides history, content and guidance so that changes are not disruptive, and mistakes are not repeated. In January I will continue pushing for better Tenure review, accountability of staff, transparency, support services for students needs and safe and secure facilities.”

Bronfeld was involved in hiring Superintendent Dr. Carole Kelley, a Supervisor of Elementary Education and other key staff as well as having a role in approving a 5-year contract with the teacher’s union. The roof referendum, with construction now underway, was part of her efforts to keep the schools safe. She has also pushed for an earlier start to the budget process, a goal she hopes will prevent layoffs and keep retirees in Princeton. She says she is running for a third term to put students first and is an advocate for multi-tiered support for all learners.

“Moving forward, PPS must focus on supporting our special education, black, and brown students in creating more opportunities for them in general education and AP classes. PPS needs to implement more findings from the special education audit, including professional development for general education staff on how to read and implement student’s IEPs, continue focusing on supporting all social and emotional needs of our students and staff and be sympathetic to home issues that students bring with them to school,” says Bronfeld.

Susan Kanter is running for her second term on the Board. She has sent three children to Princeton Public Schools. After 20 years as VP of Operations for a multinational sales company, Susan retired and later joined the Board of Education in 2020, just 60 days before COVID restrictions and remote learning began.

“It took an engaged and well-functioning board to support the district through the many consequential decisions that needed to be made weekly and keep the focus on student learning/engagement and safety. I believe I contributed to allowing the board to maintain this focus. I have served on five committees during my first term, including my work as Co-Chair of Operations and a member of the Long-Range Planning team. The experience I gained ensuring our facilities are safe, maintained, sustainable and able to serve our community as we grow, while understanding the burden our taxpayers already feel, would make me a valuable member of the PPS School Board for the next three years.”

Though Kanter is proud of the BOE’s role in safely reopening schools, finalizing labor contracts and focusing on facility improvements/repairs, she feels there is still more work to be done.

“The Board is focused on expanding efforts to support the social emotional health of our students, implementing the findings of our special education review, implementing a new strategic plan that has measurable goals in improving areas of growth for the district and supporting the administration as it develops a long-term maintenance and facilities plan,” Kanter adds.

Dafna Kendal, currently serving as Board President, is running for her third non-consecutive term. She has one child that recently graduated from PPS, and another still attending Princeton High School. A practicing lawyer, Kendal believes her collaboration with other Board members helps get things done.

“I have had the privilege to represent our community for six years on the Board of Education. I have served on every BOE committee, and served in the role of vice president twice, and am currently serving in the role of BOE president. This experience has allowed me to develop a deep knowledge of how the district is run and what is needed to effect change.”

Proud of the professionalism of the district’s teachers, administrators and staff, she credits them with enabling the schools to provide an in person, safe and healthy learning environment throughout the 2021-2022 school year. Going forward, she sees that offering conversations with the community through Bagels with the Board and the Superintendent’s library office hours as ways to engage and listen.

“Communication is getting better. The district has a Public Information Officer who does a great job posting information on the website, on social media, and sending emails to the PPS community. We are continually looking at ways to ensure that staff, parents, students and community members are informed,” Kendal notes.

Margarita “Rita” Rafalovsky is running for her first term on the Board. She is the only candidate with children still in elementary school, with her youngest of two currently at Johnson Park Elementary. Rafalovsky is running for a seat because she aims to help ensure there is topnotch education at PPS, and she is concerned about where the district is headed.

“It seems strange to me that in a town like Princeton, our community and school leaders are not sensitive to the fact that PPS’s education rankings have been regressing for years (for example, 490th in 2022 from 94th in 2009 in U.S. News),” notes Rafalovsky. “While rankings are not the ‘final grade,’ they are indicative of overall perceived quality. It’s important to point out that our district’s precipitous decline in test scores, especially since 2014 occurred despite the fact that our town’s spend on education remains above most school systems in NJ and has continued to climb. On one hand, our district is admirably focused on improving equity, yet educational excellence – the greatest equalizer – has not been made explicit.”

A first-generation immigrant from the former Soviet Union, Rafalovsky was raised in NY/NJ public schools. She believes her accomplishments and experience can benefit Princeton schools.

“I worked hard to achieve my American Dream and want to protect that opportunity for future generations. I’ve worked in the financial sector and in consulting for 16+ years. I’m a data-driven person and I believe good governance requires reliable data and measurable goals,” Rafalovsky explains. “My personal journey, passion and professional background – in process re-engineering, building teams and new products – are valuable assets to the BOE and the PPS community at large.”

Lishian Lisa Wu is running for her first term on the Board and has previously vied for a seat on Princeton Council (2018) and as Mercer County Executive (2019). Wu moved to the United States from Taiwan in the mid-70s to attend UCLA, and later raised three children as a single mother. She did not respond to our request for information/comments.


The Mercer County Board of Commissioners, the legislative branch of county government, has four candidates vying for 2 open seats. The 7-member Board is currently comprised of all Democrats, each serving three-year terms. One incumbent is running for re-election, the other three candidates would be new to the Board. The part-time role is for a three-year term.

Board of County Commissioners Candidates: Michael Chianese (R), Andrew Kotula (R), Cathleen Lewis (D) and Nina Melker (D)

Michael Chianese is running for the second time to gain a seat on the Board of County Commissioners, hoping to add a conservative voice to county government.

“For over 2 decades the county has been under democratic rule, tax and spend with no transparency to the county residents,” Chianese states. “I cannot express enough for the residents to wake up and educate themselves with real facts of what this party now stands for. The nation is in serious trouble if the Democrats continue to be in the majority on so many fronts, immigration, spending, law and order and many other issues. Change starts at the local levels.”

Chianese believes Mercer County has not had fair and honest governance for 20 years and that his experience and desires to improve can make that happen.

“I have always advocated for the taxpayer and for honest and fair government,” Chianese adds. “I worked at high levels of management within state government for over 35 years. I handled large projects and managed large budgets. I was also the fire commissioner for Mercerville Firehouse for almost 3 years. I understand state, municipal and county organizations.”

Andrew Kotula is running for a second time to Board of Commissioners to provide a different perspective in the county government.

“I have always believed that the best ideas come from debate, and it is very difficult to have debate when everyone in the room already agrees. After 20 years, it is time for Mercer to bring Republicans back to the table and give them a voice,” explains Kotula. “The soaring cost of energy and food mean there is less money in the family budget, and we need a Commission that will consider these challenges to our Mercer County families and look for opportunities to reduce the county’s budget so that our county’s residents can keep more of their personal income.”

Kotula grew up in Middlesex County, NJ and has lived in Mercer County for 22 years. He feels his private sector experience would be an asset to the County Commissioners.

“For the last 16 years I have run my own learning center and have been responsible for setting and working within a budget,” expands Kotula. “As my company’s revenue decreased, I have been asked multiple times to reset and reevaluate my budgets. Having a reduced budget meant looking for areas of opportunity to cut costs that would have minimal impact on the quality of learning that I provided. I plan to bring these honed budgeting skills to the Board of Commissioners looking for opportunities to reduce costs and maintain and improve the quality of life or our residents.”

Cathleen Lewis is a first-time candidate for Board of Commissioners but is not new to local government. She has served on Lawrence Council for ten years (which included a two-year term as Mayor).

“I’m running to bring the same kind of thoughtful, progressive change to Mercer County that we have seen in Lawrence in the 10 years I’ve served on council. We have worked hard to create more sustainable programs, encourage small business growth and increase diversity throughout the township and in our government. We need to be doing the same thing on a county level,” Lewis describes.

Lewis is interested in sharing her past experiences with the county. She currently works on a team that is shaping Electric Vehicle Policy in New Jersey and hopes to further educate people about different choices when it comes to transportation, whether it’s EV, biking, walking or better public transportation. She is also interested in working to meet the needs of residents, through different communication channels, providing easier access to services and being more reachable.

“Partnerships and coalitions can improve services and save money. As a local elected official in Lawrence, I’ve spent the last decade building those relationships and understand the importance of working with our municipalities to better serve all our residents. I want to help encourage that type of collaboration at the county level,” Lewis explains.

Nina Melker is running to retain her seat on the Board of Commissioners. Currently serving as its Chair, she is running for her second full term (she took over a vacated seat in 2018) to help continue the Board’s work.

“I feel I have gained valuable insight and experience serving and helping the County navigate extraordinary circumstances through the pandemic,” Melker details. “As an incumbent, I bring experience in dealing with County business. The budget is the primary responsibility of the Commissioner Board and as a banker, I bring expertise in finance which is critical in the budget process.”

Melker is proud of the work she’s done to keep taxes down in Mercer County. If re-elected, she has three main goals going forward.

“A, making sure we can maintain a responsible budget practice and continue to keep Mercer affordable for all our residents; B, I want to continue expanding our green initiatives and sustainable environmental policies; C, increase collaboration with our municipalities; and D, continue advocating for everyone in our community,” Melker adds.


In 2022, there is one national race facing our area and that is for the U.S. House of Representatives. Mercer County municipalities are not all part of the same Congressional district. For example, Hamilton, Lawrence, East Windsor, Hightstown and Robbinsville have all become part of District 3 this year, which means those residents will be voting in the race between incumbent Andy Kim (D) and Republican challenger Bob Healy. Candidates Christopher Russomann (Libertarian) and Gregory M. Sobocinski (G-d Save America) are also vying for the seat. In Princeton, the District 12 seat has been held since 2015. Both races could help determine whether Democrats keep the House.

District 12 Congressional Candidates: Darius Mayfield (R), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D) and C. Lynn Genrich (Libertarian).

Darius Mayfield is running for his first term in Congress. Starting out in Section 8 Housing, Mayfield is proud of the success he’s earned, becoming the youngest sales manager at a top 25 Auto Group in the US by age 17, and in 2019, becoming the first black general manager of the U.S.’ third fastest growing auto group. He is running as a new voice in Congress, hoping to represent all people.

“My motto is ‘Not Black. Not White. American.’ I am for all people. I am for real unity, and I have lived real unity,” Mayfield shares. “I have Republicans, Democrats, and Unaffiliated working on my campaign. I have knocked doors and speak to all parties on a daily basis. My campaign signs maybe the first ever Republican politician signs in Trenton. We receive calls daily from Democrats wanting to know more and how they can also receive lawn signs. My platform includes issues like criminal justice reform which is typically not a Republican platform. My top issues are securing economic equality, education, and national security. These issues all work together to provide safe communities and a future to look forward to.”

With his goal of eliminating racial divides, Mayfield is a grassroots leader, who has refused to fund his campaign with donations from lobbyists and special interest groups.

“There will be a turnover in the house this year towards the Republican Party. Coleman will have no power in Congress. When I am elected, I can be a fair representation of the people,” says Mayfield. “I bring a business background and a history of representation of producing results and breaking records. I also have extensive negotiation skills and an energy that will always get the job done. I can work with all people and bring sensible common-sense solutions that work for our communities.”

Bonnie Watson Coleman is running for her fifth term in Congress, she previously served eight terms in the NJ State Assembly. The first black woman to represent NJ, Watson Coleman has focused her efforts on progressive values. Most recently she has supported student loan relief, an assault weapons ban, marriage equality and urged a review to declassify marijuana. She did not respond to our request for comments.

C. Lynn Genrich is in her first race for Congress. A resident of Allentown, we were unable to reach Genrich for information or comments. According to its website, the NJ Libertarian party states it is “for small government, less taxes, individual rights and free market solutions to our nation’s problems.”


It’s a lot to consider, but hopefully the information above will help by familiarizing you with the candidates before you vote in the coming month.

Before you know it, the elections will be over. Remember, your elected officials are here to serve you, regardless of what party they represent or what party you align with. Whether your chosen candidate wins the role or not, you can participate and voice your thoughts and concerns to whomever takes office.

The Realities and Impact of the Independent Voter

The United States has always had its divisions within politics which, for the most part, didn’t influence people’s daily lives or conversations. Yet in recent years, like it or not, politics has become part of the fabric of how people live their lives, make decisions, talk and view others. The Democrats have their key issues, Republicans have theirs and some would argue that both sides have shifted to the point that moderates within the parties either no longer exist or are not strongly regarded. This has led to a growing number of people who, whether officially registered as such or not, describe themselves as Independents. For the purpose of this article, we’ll be using the terms Independent and Unaffiliated interchangeably, since ‘Unaffiliated’ has been the statewide registration classification since 2006.

New Jersey has a lot of voters that are not officially aligned with either of the major parties. Across the state, there is a narrow margin differentiating Unaffiliated from Democratic voters, with merely 2.2% more voters registered as Democrats vs. Unaffiliated (37.6 U, 38.9 D, 23.1% R). New Jersey’s District 16, which incorporates Princeton as well as municipalities from Hunterdon, Middlesex and Somerset Counties tips a little the other way, with more registered Unaffiliated voters than it has Democrats or Republicans (37.6 % are Unaffiliated voters). The gap then leans back towards the Democrats when you look at Mercer County alone, where 37.3% of voters classify as Unaffiliated vs. 45.5% Democrat.

“76% of Americans are dissatisfied with the direction that our country is going in—this is among people of all political persuasions (Independents weigh in at 77%). Nationally, more people consider themselves independent” explains Sue Davies, founder of New Jersey Independent Voters. “According to the August 2022 Gallup Poll, 43% of voters consider themselves independent. This, however, doesn’t mean that they are all registered as independents. In states like New Jersey that require voters to register in a party in order to vote in the primaries, many people are forced to join a party even if they don’t want to, but still identify as independents.”

In a town like Princeton, where recent municipal elections have only had Democratic candidates on the ballots, the need to choose a party to vote in primaries does make a difference. As of early October, 58% of voters in Princeton are registered Democrat, 32% are registered as Unaffiliated.

Another Gallup Poll from this summer also shows that 52% of Millennials consider themselves Independents, and that number is rising. A large number of Veterans tend to pledge allegiance to their country and not to a party, registering as Independents as well.

So, party affiliation gives us a hint at political alignment, but it doesn’t paint the full picture, as one Princeton voter recently confirmed, “I am registered as a Democrat (since they have the only contested primaries around here. On the Republican side, there is nothing to vote for in the primaries, and sometimes they don’t field a candidate at all). I believe I do qualify as an Independent voter based on my actual political views.”

Another fallout from the requirement of party affiliation to vote in primaries is that it if one wants to maintain an official Unaffiliated status on their voter registration, they are prevented from taking part in the decisions as to who will be on the general election ballots. This year’s primary saw only 12% of voters head to the polls in Mercer County.

Despite that lapse, the Independent voter has played a major role in the November polls for more than a decade.

“We decided the outcome of the last three presidential races. We swung by eight points for Obama, four points for Trump and 13 points for Biden. The media and pundits often talk about us as if we are just ‘leaners’. In their eyes, we’re either closet Republicans or closet Democrats, but we are neither. We need to change this narrative,” Davies contends.

The need to align with a party is not just something voters struggle with. Another Princetonian shares anonymously that he feels it affects the candidates as well.

“When one is running in Princeton, they have to choose a party, or they won’t get votes. It’s unfortunate you can’t just run as an independent and win, but the Democratic party in Princeton has been historically so strong, even if you feel the party has left you behind, you have no choice but to run as a Democrat. Who’s going to run as a Republican in Princeton? You’re dead on arrival.”

So, if the voters feel forced to choose a party and the candidates do as well, where does that leave the Independent voter? Their views, which often straddle the center, used to align more with one party or another. But the shift seen amongst both major parties now leaves voters often feeling left out or straddling both sides. Many Independents believe the Democratic party, has gone so far left that if you have a middle-ground thought you are considered far right rather than center. Similarly, they feel shunned from the Republican party if their views are more moderate.

“Being a 2-party country for the most part is really challenging because I mostly agree with mainstream Democrats, but the extremely liberal beliefs are hard for me to accept. And on the Republican side, there are a few conservative ideas that make sense, but the extremely conservative beliefs have me screaming for the hills,” shared Pamela Adler, a registered Unaffiliated voter in Princeton.” This is true on the local, state and federal level but it is not seen as much in local Princeton politics (in my opinion).”

With the general election less than one month away (even earlier if you take advantage of the Early Voting Period), how does an Independent voter vote? Whereas many voters that believe in a party’s beliefs will vote party line, that option doesn’t exist when you don’t have a party candidate to vote for. Therefore, Unaffiliated voters need to do a bit more homework before heading to the polls. Studying up on each candidate, their background and what they stand for (which can be found in this issue in Where Do I Vote, Who is Running and What Does Each Candidate Stand For?) can help a voter choose a candidate that sways more to their liking.

“For me, the candidate is more important than ever. It’s a tough choice because you support a candidate as you like a majority of their issues even if they’re going to caucus with a party whose platform you don’t fully agree with,” a Princeton voter shared anonymously. “If I do my homework and look at voting records, this is a lot to ask from a voter. But I think that’s why this election more than any in the past is tough for people that consider themselves Independent and straddle the center.”

Unaffiliated voters are now finding themselves voting for or against issues. Those in support of abortion rights may lean towards a Democratic candidate while those in favor of stricter border policies likely lean towards a Republican one. This can be further complicated when a candidate aligns with you on one major issue but against you on another.

“Ideally, people should vote for a candidate rather than against his or her opponent. But in a time when fringe ideas are drowning out majority opinions and performative virtue signaling is displacing pragmatic problem solving, I’d vote for anyone who is for stopping the runaway train of radicalism and bringing back the underrepresented common sense,” explains a Princeton Independent who preferred to go unnamed.

It used to be that labelling oneself an Independent simply meant that you were free to vote how you felt, which often that meant leaning towards one party at a certain moment in your life, and another party at another point. Princeton Independents have shared with Princeton Perspectives that they don’t feel that is the case anymore. Yes, they can secretly vote at the polls for one candidate versus another, but they’ve expressed that politics has become such a part of daily life that those aligned on either side of the aisle tend to judge them for their lack of party affiliation.

“I found myself in the middle, paralyzed, and most people I know want me to choose a side,” shared Rita Rafalovsky, who has decided to work against the divide by running for a local spot on the school board. “People nowadays cannot exist without being assigned a label, and for this reason I’ve grown to hate labels more than ever. If you don’t choose a label, people will assign a label to you, and that’s a real turn off for me. I am proudly without a label, supporting specific policies that I firmly believe are good for my family and my country.”

Besides running for office, there are other ways to push against the need to affiliate, for example fight for open primaries which do not require one to be aligned with a political party to vote. Open Primaries exist in some states and in more than 70 NJ municipalities their local elections are non-partisan. Some voters simply want the right to have their opinions and vote how they want without being judged. However, if you want the Independent voice to gain more strength, you can share your opinion with the national group of Independent Voters.

“Take our national survey. This is a way for independents to get our voices heard. We are just under 38% of the voters in the state and we need to begin to flex our political muscle, to demand that all voters have the right to vote without being forced into a political party,” Davies says. “We need to create a much more democratic system that places power in the hands of the people not the parties.”

Princeton voters that don’t want to choose a Democrat or Republican do have an option to vote for a Libertarian for Congress but, for 2022, it is expected that candidates aligned with the major parties will win. So will you choose to vote for or against an ideology, for or against an issue? Whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican, Unaffiliated or aligned with a smaller party (as 0.6% of Princeton voters are), hopefully you can find your place this November and feel confident in your vote.

Editor’s Note

Every year, as September 11th approaches, I am reminded of living in New York City in 2001. I recall the horrors of concern, fear, grief and pain we all went through. I am also vibrantly reminded of the heroes that overcame the unthinkable, that put others before them, that dedicated all they had – some who survived and others who perished.

So, it seemed only fitting to focus our September issue on heroes, from centuries ago and now that have triumphed, excelled and put themselves out in ways that others maybe wouldn’t or couldn’t. In Hometown Heroes of Mercer County and Beyond, we are realizing the experiences of those from the greater Princeton area and recognizing their greatness in so many ways.

Each issue, we also seek to ensure that we’re updating you on stories we’ve covered in the past. You’ll find this in Perspectives Revisited at the bottom of the Homepage, and it always sheds light on something new. This month, read on to learn about new municipal rate hikes that might affect you as well as the latest on parking in Princeton.

Who is your hero? The word has slight nuances for each of us, though it always comes down to someone truly remarkable. This month we asked people around Princeton who they admire most and you can watch what they shared in our Pulse of Princeton video below.

It was hard, as a publication, for Princeton Perspectives to focus on only a sampling of local heroes, since there are so many throughout time, but with only four articles in the issue, that is what we had to do. Our hats do go off to each and every one of you that we were not able to highlight, you are appreciated and not forgotten.

Renewed focus and admiration was cast on our first responders when COVID-19 thrust them into harm’s way in a very public way. More often, what they do is not publicized, and what’s talked about even less is those that take on those roles without pay, as volunteers. The Local Heroes that Live to Keep us Safe Everyday shares a Q&A with one of Princeton’s long-time volunteer firefighters.

Even before Princeton had a fire company, there were people living here or passing through that had great strengths and abilities. Princeton’s Historical Heroes and Their Impact on Our Lives shares the stories of some of those that made remarkable contributions in politics, social action and inventive ways.

While some choose to embark on a heroic journey, others are forced into it. Fighting for Life – The Heroic Role You Never Wanted sheds light on some heroines who had to dig deep, fight hard and find a greatness they didn’t know they had in order to survive breast cancer.

Surviving is a quality of a hero, and sometimes it takes the efforts of other generous, caring people to help you do so. Interfaith Refugee Resettlement in Princeton is Possible Due to the Courageous Acts of Many explains what it takes to ensure that people are safe from harm with an opportunity to live and thrive.

Learning about heroes gives us all an opportunity to reflect a little and recognize the power that lives within each of us to do and be the best version of ourselves. Part of that means taking on the responsibilities granted to you and helping to guide people in the right direction.

As always, Princeton Perspectives will devote our October issue to helping you be as educated as possible about all of the candidates you will find on the November ballot, so that you can head to the polls and take part in guiding the future of America, New Jersey and Princeton.

The Pulse of Princeton: Who is your hero?