Adam Bierman is running for Princeton Council as an independent. He previously ran as a Democrat but chose not to participate in the Princeton Community Democratic Organization’s nominating process. He is competing for one of two open seats against Democrats Mia Sacks and Michelle Pirone Lambros. There are no Republican candidates.
The Echo offered Bierman the opportunity to respond to the same questions that were posed to the Democratic candidates in advance of the primary election.
Background: I am a native Princetonian. Graduated from PHS in 1978 and received an BA and MA in international affairs and public policy from Rutgers.
Family: I am married with a daughter who just started college. My wife is originally from Ecuador and works at the charity clinic at Princeton Hospital. Before I came back home, in the 1990s, I worked in El Salvador, Ecuador, and Taiwan. Currently I work as a teacher at a state-run program for young teen moms in Trenton. The site offers daycare for their kids and the goal is to give the young women the stability/support needed to get their HS diploma. I also produce/“star” on two shows on Princeton TV.
Community involvement: Past — Treasurer for the Princeton Democratic Municipal Committee (PDMC). I served on PDMC since 2009. But, I was recently told by the PDMC chair, “as she was in charge, I would never be on the PDMC again.” I do appreciate the inadvertent honesty. Candidate for Princeton Council 2018. I have applied to be on council committees twice but have not been appointed.
Currently — Communications Worker of America (CWA) 1033 Shop Steward. I have kept membership retention at 97 percent in my building. Producer and host of two shows on Princeton TV. D 13 Neighbor activist. In that capacity I am working to implement the Neighborhood Buddy Program spearheaded by Sustainable Princeton’s Jenny Ludmer and Councilman David Cohen. The idea is to encourage residents to look out for a neighbor or neighbors who might be vulnerable, ensuring they are safe during an emergency. Played a small part in reducing the bloated, ill-conceived $137 million school referendum to $27 million.
I am running because I have the time and the energy to do the job. Because I felt it was an opportunity and the time for me to step in and help with the shifting standards/expectations of Princeton, to help intelligently/proactively as we continue to transition from being a small town to a consolidated, metro focus destination, with all the issues of expanding nonprofits, stress on infrastructure, affordable housing requirements, and governmental scandals.
I love meeting people, learning about issues, and forming policy, and breaking down the shifting complexities of policy, process, and politics is never boring.
Parking: Many residents and business owners have expressed concerns about the new parking meters downtown. Do you think the new system is working? If not, what changes should be made?
The council new parking meter rollout was less than stellar. No pilot program, dismissing input from merchants on pricing, the meters not being delivered on time, all these factors adding a deficit to the town’s budget. Council, reactively, finally listened to the public and the merchants on suggestions on pricing, grace period, hours one can park, using loading zones, etc. Now we can look at the treasure drove of data from the meters to discover our breakeven point, learn more about the ebb and flow of traffic and how to redirect it, nuisance and flexibility with pricing. Harder to quantify is first-time visitors to Princeton who no longer plan to return because parking was such an exasperating experience. Until we know those numbers it is hard to give a definitive answer/plan.
Renovations for the closed Alexander Bridge unfortunately had to be done during the 2019 holiday season for environmental reasons. Some merchants fear this could be the tipping point to financial meltdown. They want free parking during November and December to hopefully offset lost customers. Can we afford it? They said they have found reasonable employee parking spaces , but merchants say they are getting blow back from residents I went to San Diego this summer, where the meters originated. Large swaths of the meters have broken down and or give the wrong times/prices. Will this happen in Princeton?
Housing: There’s been talk about changing zoning rules to allow, for example, accessory dwelling units. Do you think there is a need for more housing accessible to middle- and low-income families? If so, how should Princeton address that need?
We must get zoning right. Zoning drives the direction a town grows. We need the ability to construct mother-in-laws apartments, auxiliary apartments; so, the cost of the land (property taxes) can be shared. It is the only way we can hold on to the middle-class, teachers, police, firefighters, people making “only $75,000 a year,” seniors on fixed incomes, etc. Some neighborhoods could be rezoned for mixed use/decouple the need for cars; that way residents can work and socialize in their neighborhoods. Less sprawl is a good housing policy and good housing policy becomes good climate policy. Having new businesses with the help of grants can expand our tax base, too, through increased commercial property tax collection; I do not know why this has not happened yet. Not enough manpower to focus on the issue? The lack of political will?
Other issues: I want to know what environmental damage has been done to the River Road site corruption/public health scandal. There is no way a low-level employee is responsible for this amount scandal. This latest scandal shows me a structured fundamental lack of accountability from our elected officials and lack of transparency on so many levels.