How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

Mission Possible: How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

Thoughts on Hsueh & Marathe

Thanks to Shing-Fu Hsueh's 16 year and six month tenure as "my mayor," West Windsor has been called "the most family-friendly neighborhood to raise kids in New Jersey" (AOL Neighborhood Scout in 2009), "the best city in New Jersey if you want to buy a home" (Business Insider 2017) and "the best town in Mercer County" (NJ Family Magazine in 2017). Mayor Hsueh is retiring at the end of the year.

My wife and I moved to West Windsor in 1977. It was a small rural farm community with around 8,500 residents, mostly white (88%). It was known for its farms, train station and excellent school systems. The town has grown more then three-fold since then. Today, it is a culturally-diverse community with Asian-Americans making up more than 50% of the community's residents and remains recognized for its train station, exemplary school system and high-quality comprehensive municipal services.

While Mayor Hsueh has not done it alone, Township's public employee over the years have been exemplary, he has been the driving force that have made West Windsor a terrific place to raise a family and a property tax bargain. While property-taxes are by no means low, for the comprehensive services we receive and the historic high re-sale value of homes in West Windsor (it remains to be seen whether this will change under the Republican tax plan), we are getting extraordinary value for our tax dollars.

The following are a few of the many benefits that West Windsor residents have received over the years as a result of the mayor's leadership:

  • More than 50% of the Township's land is preserved as green open-space
  • A "complete street" bicycle and pedestrian friendly roadway grid
  • Eight impeccably maintained parks with exemplary recreational facilities including a community swimming pool
  • Wonderful weekend farmers market
  • Many community events that celebrate our community's diversity
  • A full-service Senior Center offering programs for the communities diversified population
  • An excellent West Windsor Arts Center
  • An educational History Museum and Environmental Education Center at the Schenck Farmstead
  • Expanded parking at the West Windsor train station
  • Grovers Mill Pond clean-up
  • A beautiful pagoda-style pavilion recently erected in Nash Park on Alexander Road
  • A Triple-A-Credit rating that allows the town to borrow funds at below prevailing market rates
  • Meadow Road realignment, Canal Pointe Boulevard reconstruction and the Pigtown and Alexander Railroad Bridge reconstruction
  • Many improvements to the townships roads and bridges (most done in concert with other units of government)

All of this was accomplished without a hint of scandal and much of it paid for by non-tax sources. The mayor earns $17,685 per annum. There is little doubt in my mind that "my mayor" earns less than $8.44 per hour (current minimum wage in NJ) for his efforts on behalf of the citizens of West Windsor.

I want to thank Mayor Hsueh for his efforts and wish him the best in whatever he opts to do next. Mercer County Democrats would be well advised to consider Mayor Hsueh for the vacant assembly seat created by the appointment of Liz Muoio to be the State's Treasurer. He has earned consideration by virtue of his outstanding performance as mayor of West Windsor.

I would urge our incoming mayor, Dr. Hemant Marathe, to take a page out of Mayor Hseuh's book with regard to the following:

  • Pick really competent ethical people to head the Planning and Zoning Boards and Parking Authority (plaudits to Marvin Gardner, Susan Abbey and Andy Lupo). Once you select these folks, don't micro-manage them.
  • Reach out to all levels of government and attempt to work with them in a cooperative manner.
  • Don't meddle in or bring politics into the day-to-day management of municipal government. It is okay to set the bar high and to assess whether folks lived up your administration's expectations. In this regard, clarity of expectation is the key. I'd like to see more effort given to establishing clear measurable objectives for the various departments of municipal government.
  • The Township Attorney is a key role. A good model for the right person in this position was the late Michael Herbert Sr.
  • Only hire outside contract professionals who have a clear understanding of our community and its unique and abiding values.
  • Complex issues required nuanced positions and solutions. Just saying "no" is rarely the right answer. Nobody can "keep West Windsor as it is" - growth and change is inevitable. The key is changing without destroying what makes West Windsor special -- our diversity and a growing tradition of providing high-quality comprehensive municipal and educational services at the best possible price.

The elimination of SALT, also known as State and Local Taxes, as an itemized deduction for federal income taxes as well as a cap on mortgage deductions will have enormous financial consequences for many West Windsor homeowners who will see their federal taxes jump by thousands of dollars. This will place enormous additional pressure on local government to reduce the local tax burden. These federal actions have made incoming Mayor Marthe's job much more difficult.