Contact Information: 
Ernest C. Cerino, Jr.
Office of the Mercer County Clerk

This week, Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami Covello, as a member of the Constitutional Officers Association of New Jersey (COANJ), urged the Governor to submit a proposal to host a 2012 Presidential or Vice-Presidential debate in the Princeton area. Her request was made in accord with COANJ, where Sollami Covello serves as the immediate past Section Chief for County Clerks.

“We believe it would be a tremendous boost to New Jersey’s economy if our State was selected as a national debate site and Princeton, New Jersey would be a perfect location to host it,” said Sollami Covello.

Sollami Covello was quick to suggest Princeton in her home county of Mercer as an ideal Presidential Debate site for 2012. Princeton has been the site to many national events in the past including the National Governor’s Association Conference in 1992. Greater Princeton also has the required number of hotel rooms and conference space available to host an event of this size. “Princeton, with its world renowned university would also be an outstanding site for a Presidential Debate,” noted Sollami Covello, adding that Princeton was once home to three U.S. Presidents, James Madison, Grover Cleveland and Woodrow Wilson.

COANJ recommended either the Greater Newark area, the Trenton-Princeton region, Atlantic City, or one of the many large universities in the State as potential debate sites. The Association cited New Jersey’s numerous convention centers and arenas; its vast transportation systems; and network of hotels as positive features in selecting debate sites.

Some criteria for a debate site include:
  • An air-conditioned hall in size of at least 17,000 square feet.
  • Three thousand hotel rooms within a 30 minute ride to the event.
  • Close proximity to air and ground transportation networks and hubs.
  • Adequate space for 30 television broadcasting and satellite transmission trucks.
Sollami Covello further noted that Mercer is terrific tourist destination. “Mercer County is essentially the cradle of United States history, with George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware and the historic Battles of Trenton and Princeton fought nearby,” she said.

COANJ leadership sent letters last week to numerous state officials encouraging them to prepare a proposal for the Commission on Presidential Debates. The COANJ officers pledged, by resolution, their support. The Constitutional Officers Association of New Jersey (COANJ) was organized in 1920 to establish a cooperative effort among New Jersey’s County Clerks, Sheriffs, and Surrogates.