This November, Princeton will elect two Council members. On the Democratic Party side, four candidates are running, and the Princeton Community Democratic Organization will meet this Sunday, March 20, to make endorsements. Ahead of the PCDO meeting, we contacted the four candidates to hear their views on various questions relating to walkable living and reducing car dependency. Responses from Leticia Fraga are below. Answers from Jenny Crumiller can be viewed at this link. Later this week, we will publish responses from the other candidates who are running: Anne Waldron Neumann (Wednesday) and Tim Quinn (Thursday). Thanks to all the candidates for participating and sharing their views!
Responses from Leticia Fraga:
1. 21,000 people drive into Princeton each day to work. Do you believe that the town should try to reduce vehicle-miles-traveled. If so, how?
As part of reducing our dependency on fossil fuels, limiting costs, and improving our health and wellbeing, Princeton needs to curtail our car culture. One potential avenue forward is to consult with major employers and identify an ideal location for a Park and Ride lot on a Freebie transit route. This could reduce congestion at commuting hours.
Similarly, through dialogue I’d like to see Council encouraging local employers such as Princeton University and other major employers, to provide incentives for their employees to use alternate modes of transportation such as shuttle buses. If more commuters took advantage of this it would reduce congestion, and deliver the added bonus of freeing the too-scarce parking spots and attracting more shoppers to downtown Princeton.
To reduce commuting distances generally, I join those who have voiced support for a Local Hire Preference. It would not only drive economic development in our community, but would also further reduce traffic congestion, which is a global as well as a local problem. If Princeton employers were to give preference to Princeton residents who meet desired qualifications, employees would not need to commute. Such a “preference policy” should also extend to our municipal departments, to ensure that, when possible, we’re spending local tax dollars to employ residents of our town who then reinvest in our community.
2. What do you think the town should be doing to reduce the affordable housing waiting list (currently estimated at over 1,000 households) and enable middle class people to live in town?
Keeping Princeton affordable for people with low and middle incomes is crucial. That means preserving the existing stock of affordable housing as well as increasing the affordable units with a new supply of quality affordable housing. Managed correctly, high quality affordable housing is in everyone’s best interest. That means integrating subsidized housing throughout the various neighborhoods of our town, not concentrating and isolating these options apart from the rest of the community.
Successful zoning will include affordable low and middle-income options for singles and families and provide a blueprint that we can use to shape the space and character we want for our town going forward. A new option that could limit sprawl and meet the needs of the town is “micro-units” which could be built to be attractive, affordable, near transit options and would help ease overcrowding in some overcrowded neighborhoods.
3. Princeton is working on a new bicycle circulation plan. What kind of changes do you think the town should make to promote cycling?
All the happiest cities in the world have made cycling a priority and I am proud that Princeton has made great strides in this area over the past few years. As an active member of the Bicycle Master Plan Study Advisory Committee, I have been working with Mayor Lempert, Council Members, and other town leaders to develop a Bicycle Master Plan. When put into place, this plan will advance the Complete Streets policy, to identify infrastructure improvements that specifically create a safe and comfortable bicycling environment. As part of this plan, additional bike racks are also a must.
The Human Services Commission, on which I serve as Vice Chair, sponsors a Bicycle Rodeo. It is always a thrill to see various sectors of our vibrant community (young and old) come together around our shared enthusiasm for bicycles and safety. We should encourage ongoing events year-round that promote biking. This will take careful planning and commitment. Many members of our community — students, service workers and professionals — rely on cycling to get them to and from work and many others do so recreationally.
4. What specific idea or policy is the thing that drives you most in seeking office?
I, like all Princetonians, want to live in a strong, safe and inclusive community. Public safety is a prime concern in all of our neighborhoods. Our local police force must have access to the tools and technology to effectively do their jobs, without sacrificing the community trust that is mutually relied on. I believe Princeton would benefit from a Police and Community Relations committee to foster dialogue and outreach. There’s no substitute for having open channels of communication between the community and law enforcement.
Addressing social inequities is also important. I have heard from many members of our community who question why other neighborhoods have better streets and sidewalks, or more responsive municipal services such as snow removal. There is a perception that these inequities are a result of an inequitable distribution of resources. I would promise to work to be a voice for All Princeton residents to address these concerns. I intend to apply a very strong social justice equity lens to any and all planned policies that come before council.