Lempert’s Guidance, Balance, Compassion, Helped Make Witherspoon-Jackson 20th Historic District

To the Editor:

I was born, raised and educated in Princeton.  I have and will always consider this my home, but for most of my adult life I have never been 100 percent comfortable here, I have never felt like I “fully belonged.”

Sad commentary…right?  It is sad, but it is also true.  The good thing is that when Liz Lempert became our mayor, my feelings began to change.  I am not a clinical psychologist, but I will tell you that Liz hears voices…not just some voices, but all voices.  She is the consummate listener.

As chair of the Princeton Housing Authority’s (PHA) Board of Commissioners I know and have seen firsthand our mayor’s willingness to jump into the fray to help solve problems.  When children of PHA residents had an issue with transportation for afterschool programming at the Little Brook School, she was there.

On numerous occasions during the yearlong discussions of the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood becoming the 20th historic district in Princeton, I and others sought the sage advice of Liz and Council members to navigate through the process and bring the ordinance to a successful conclusion. Although the decision seemed like a “slam dunk” to many because it was long overdue and “the right thing to do,” nothing could be further from the truth.

Had it not been for her guidance, balance, compassion, and stewardship along with strong and strategic community based activism in guiding the process we might still have only 19 historic districts in our town. In difficult, daunting and uncertain political times this seminal, momentous, and impactful decision represents no less than a “rebirth” for our town and because of Princeton’s unique place in American history, our nation as well.  For this, she has earned the respect and gratitude of many.  Our mayor is accessible.  She shows up at community based events, communicates effectively, and maintains an open office at the Public Library.  To promote diversity Mayor Lempert made Princeton one of only 80 municipalities in the country to celebrate “Welcoming Week,” an annual series of events where communities bring together immigrants and U.S.-born residents in the spirit of unity to raise awareness of the benefits of welcoming everyone, including new Americans.

Under her capable leadership, Princeton is now more inclusionary, more diverse, more open, more fair-minded, more welcoming, more friendly, and yes, more American.

Under a consolidated Princeton our police department led by a capable chief has assembled and can boast the most diverse group of law enforcement officers I believe, anywhere in the state of New Jersey, and quite possibly the entire country! Great things have happened under her watch. “We” are getting things right!!!

In November’s upcoming election I will not be voting for Liz because I’m a Democrat, I will be voting for her because for the first time in my life I feel like I’m not just from Princeton but I belong here, and I am now more proud than ever to call it my home.  My message to my mayor…

“leadership is everything…thanks for everything!”

Leighton Newlin