West Windsor Mayoral Candidates 2013
West Windsor Mayoral Candidates Answer League Questions
November 5, 2013 General Election Day
Polls will be open from 6am until 8pm
EDITOR'S NOTE: These are the verbatim responses of the candidates for Mayor of West Windsor Township to questions presented by The League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area in cooperation with The Princeton Packet. The candidates were allowed to vary the length of their answers to the three questions but were given a word limit for the total.
Candidates – Vote for one (four-year term)
Shing-Fu Hsueh, Ph.D., P.E.,P.P. (incumbent) - Professional Engineer, Professional Planner, Public Service. Website: www.wwmovingforwardtogether.com
Hemant Marathe - Owner of a small business: Indian Foods & Spices. Website: www.timeforchangeww.com
Richard “Rick” Visovsky - Vice President of Carbon Partners -- International trading of solid fuels for steel mills and power plants. Website: www.yourvoiceinwestwindsor.com
What do you consider the three most important challenges facing West Windsor? What personal and professional experiences have prepared you for addressing these challenges?
Important challenges for West Windsor are the long term plans for the Howard Hughes property; Route 571 and downtown Princeton Junction improvements; and implementation of the Sarnoff (now SRI) General Development Plan (including the Penns Neck bypass).
I have a wealth of personal and professional experience after over 40 years working with all levels of government and research institutions related to public sector issues in NJ and at the national level. These include having been appointed to the State Planning Commission by both Governors Corzine and Christie and having been one of the founding members of Smart Growth America. Having a Professional Engineer and Professional Planner license also allows me to understand and work at the professional level with land use projects like Howard Hughes and Sarnoff. My successful experiences with local development for the past 20 years will enhance my ability to balance local concerns (schools, infrastructure, etc.) versus state requirements such as affordable housing and municipal land use issues.
Managing development on the Howard Hughes property, keeping taxes low, and fostering mayor-council collaboration are the three most important challenges facing West Windsor today. I’ve owned two successful small businesses in unrelated fields: IT consulting and wholesale Indian groceries. I have a record of accomplishments as president of the WW-P school board over the past nine years, including managing finances, working with people, and getting things accomplished. I’ve demonstrated that I can wear different hats at the same time quite effectively.
1. The development of the Hughes property as a commercial center and economic engine for West Windsor.
2. Development of a plan to address the public safety issues that concern all residents of West Windsor. The plan should identify, prioritize, estimate cost and begin a program of annual repairs.
3. Treat the tax payers of West Windsor as valued customers entitled to know and question their government about all issues including the budget. Full transparency always!
Personally the support of my family and my faith have provided me with the drive to make good, honest and fair decisions. In addition, I have been a resident for 23 years and President of WWVFC for 8 of the last 10 years.
We have just completed our third expansion of the fire company with no taxpayer money utilized to fund the project.
I have worked as an executive in the development, sales and marketing, and engineering of both domestic and international business. I was responsible for all operations as an executive in two companies, one in Kentucky and the other in Turkmenistan. I made difficult decisions in both of these companies. This experience has prepared me to listen to all aspects of an issue, work with people both in the US and internationally, and provide leadership.
A municipality has two budgets – the annual operating budget and a capital budget. What are your priorities for each of these budgets?
For the annual operating budget, my priorities are to maintain a full-service community as we have currently with minimum staff levels; to maintain a Triple A bond rating to support our ability to acquire money for capital improvements at the lowest cost; and to continue to ensure the lowest possible, total municipal portion of the property tax rate.
For the capital budget, my priorities are to improve and maintain the infrastructure of our municipality including bike lanes and sidewalks to provide connectivity throughout the community and to reduce traffic congestion; to improve and maintain equipment for municipal operations so that we can work more efficiently with current staffing levels; to improve and maintain our investments in open space and parks including our playgrounds; and other investments to improve and maintain our quality of life.
Most taxpayers don’t care whether their tax dollar is spent on the operating or the capital budget. The most important thing for both budgets is to keep financial operation as lean as possible to minimize taxes. The capital budget must take into consideration the priorities jointly set by the mayor and council. It must also take a long-term view by projecting township needs for the future. The annual budget must reflect the actual expenditures and revenue projections based on recent experience. We’ve had to be very careful in the school district to plan both budgets for several years into the future given the 2% cap on taxes. As president of the school board, I’ve demonstrated that both lower taxes and excellent service can be achieved with proper planning and controls.
The top priority will be to reduce both budgets and manage them effectively. Both the operating budget and the capital budget are interrelated with the operating budget providing the reoccurring funds to support capital expenditures. Therefore the capital budget must be closely monitored to insure that the actual items purchased under the capital budget are necessary and needed for an efficient and cost effective local government. The capital budget will only include items that are large expenditures for equipment, building, other major expenses. There have been occasion where operating expenditures were included in the capital budget
What would you do to make the planning, approval, and development process more efficient?
Mr. Hsueh: Within the constraints of statutory requirements and state regulations, I would continue to streamline the application review and approval processes. One commercial development’s three-year plan was decided in a single Planning Board meeting. Each application is different and we have been able to tailor the services to the needs of the applicant. We have one stop meetings where all municipal divisions are represented to answer questions of the applicant and their professionals and to expedite the process in a coordinated fashion.
The most important thing is to have a transparent process where everyone’s input is valued. The input is sought before a decision is made and serious consideration is given to all input. The mayor must work with the council and residents to develop a common vision and to achieve it in cooperation with the council. As Harry Truman said, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.”
West Windsor has earned a reputation as a town that’s difficult to do business in. Leadership from the mayor is required to change that reality and encourage businesses to locate here. Such action would reduce residents’ share of our taxes by increasing commercial or “good” ratables. Having an efficient process, with mayor and council working together, is of utmost importance as we handle the development of the 650-acre Howard Hughes property. For the sake of West Windsor’s future, it’s important to prevent the development from turning into a Transit Village II.
As a businessman I fully appreciate the value of time. Any potential development deserves a timely response from the township. Delays can cause the loss of a desirable project to other municipalities. A timely exchange of necessary information between the township and a potential developer will be mandatory.
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