Sides have been chosen in the West Windsor municipal election on May 10.##M:[more]##
Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh announced that he would seek re-election with council candidates Linda Geevers and Heidi Kleinman during a press conference at the Princeton Junction train station on March 9.
The three will run together on a slate called the Community Vision Team, a slate that goes into the election armed with the endorsements of three members of West Windsor Council.
Alison Miller, Hsueh’s opponent for mayor, on Thursday, March 17, announced the formation of the Openness, Integrity, Action slate during a press conference at the gazebo adjacent to the township senior center at the municipal complex. Miller, who announced her candidacy earlier this month, will run with council candidates George Borek and David Siegel.
The cutoff for candidates to file to run was Thursday at 4 p.m. As of the News’ deadline on Thursday, only the two slates had filed, according to Township Clerk Sharon Young.
Open for election this year are the job of part-time township mayor and two seats on the five-member township council. All positions are for four-year terms.
The election guarantees that the township will see two new members on council following the annual reorganization meeting in July. The seats are currently held by Miller, who opted to run for mayor instead of council, and Jackie Alberts, who decided not to run for re-election to spend more time with her family.
For the first time since the township instituted the mayor-council form of government in 1993, the members of council not running for election have opted to endorse a full slate of candidates. Council President Franc Gambatese and council members Kristin Appelget and Charlie Morgan have thrown their support behind Hsueh, Geevers, and Kleinman.
Gambatese, a Democrat, has been a Hsueh supporter and was recruited by the mayor to run for council in 2003. Although Republicans Appelget and Morgan have never been directly aligned with the mayor in the past — they ran against him in the 1997 council race — they have agreed with him on many policy issues since he was elected mayor.
“With the number of complex issues facing the West Windsor community in the coming years,”says Appelget, “we need experienced and dedicated individuals who are willing to learn, to listen, and to make balanced reasonable decisions based upon the expected long-term benefits to the community.”
Morgan endorsed the Community Vision Team as the candidates that will “best serve the interests of West Windsor over the next four years… I urge that the West Windsor community seriously consider voting for all three of these candidates.”
“While I haven’t agreed with Mayor Hsueh on every issue, I have shared his views on the great majority of them,” says Morgan. “Shing-Fu Hsueh has devoted much of his time over the years to issues of importance to West Windsor.”
Morgan points out that Geevers would enter the council coming off service as a member of the West Windsor-Plainsboro Board of Education. Geevers opted to not run for re-election to the board this year in order to seek a run for council. “Her perspective from that experience will be invaluable to council, particularly as we address budget issues.”
The councilman also strongly supported Kleinman, who currently sits on the township planning board. “While I have not always agreed with all the positions she has taken on the planning board, she has demonstrated strong intellect and strength of character in her willingness to stake out independent positions of importance to her.”
Alberts, meanwhile, says she will not endorse any of the candidates, and is just happy to see that qualified individuals have stepped forward seeking election. “I just want to do my job as a member of council until the end of my term. If I wanted to be involved in the election, I’d be running.”
Miller, 59, is a resident of Windsor Drive with her husband, Richard. Her sons, ages 21 and 24, attended WW-P schools. Miller has served a total of 10 years on Township Council and was council liaison on the Planning Board for six years.
She has also served on the Zoning Board, Site Plan Review Advisory Board, Affordable Housing Committee, Open Space Acquisition Task Force, and Friends of West Windsor Open Space.
A self-employed planning consultant, she is certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners. A graduate of Hunter College, Miller earned a masters degree in city and regional planning from Rutgers.
Miller says she shares the same goals and philosophies with Siegel and Borek: “Responsive government that thrives on openness, community involvement and outreach to ensure that it truly understands the needs and desires of people. David and George will be thoughtful, thorough, and logical council members, will provide new, creative ideas, and can be counted on to make the decisions they think best for the township.”
Miller downplays the endorsements of her opponents by fellow council mates. “There are people in town who are endorsing Shing, and some who are endorsing me. We’ll find out on May 10 who wins.”
Borek, 45, and his wife, Kimberly, have lived on Wellington Drive in the Wellington Estates West development since 2001. He has two children, a 22-month-old son, and an 18-month-old daughter.
Borek works as a firefighter in Jersey City, and serves as secretary of Firefighters Union Local 1066. He has also served on the union’s executive board, and as vice president.
Born and raised in Jersey City, Borek was a member of the Jersey City Zoning Board, New Jersey vice president in the International Association of Firefighters, and vice president of the New Jersey Firefighters Ski race, raising money for the Saint Barnabas Burn Center in Livingston.
“I’m familiar with the challenges that development and redevelopment can pose to a municipality,” Borek says. “A lot of times government officials worry about what’s in it for them. We should be worried about what’s best for the community.”
Adds Borek: “I’m not a yes man, or a rubber stamp guy. I’m about what’s in my heart and doing what is right. I’m running because I care about the community where I live. As a father of two young children, I want to work towards making West Windsor a safer and more enjoyable place for young people.”
Siegel, 44, lives on Berrien Avenue with his wife, Mary Ann. A resident of the township since 2000, he works as a software developer for Cognos Corporation in South Brunswick.
Vice president of the Berrien City Neighborhood Association, Siegel is assistant director and webmaster of the Plainsboro Duplicate Bridge Club, and an associate member of Sigma Xi: The Scientific Research Society. He was also a member of the SIG governing board of the Association for Computer Machinery, and treasurer and chairman of ACM SIGAPL, an international APL programming association.
Siegel studied physics at Lansing Community College and Michigan State University.
“We need someone who will join council and help action to occur,” says Siegel. “To often we have plans that remain in their plan pods.”
“We need an open and responsive government that reaches out to people and gets them involved,” Siegel says. “Not a government that gets together with a small group of experts, devises a plan, and then goes out and tries to sell it to the public. We need to involve our residents in the planning process.”
Hsueh, 60, heads up the Community Vision ticket seeking re-election to a second term as West Windsor’s part-time mayor. Before winning election to the job in 2001, Hsueh was on township council from 1993 to 2001. He served as council president for eight years.
A 28-year employee in state government, Hsueh retired from his position as administrator of the Department of Environmental Protection Water Supply Administration in 2002. He has also served as a member of the township board of health and the environmental commission. Hsueh also works as an adjunct professor in the Rutgers environmental engineering program.
A graduate of the National Taiwan University with a BS in chemical engineering, Hsueh earned a PhD from Rutgers University. He is also a registered professional engineer and planner. He and his wife, Sue, are 20-year West Windsor residents and live in the Princeton Oaks development. His son and daughter are graduates of the West Windsor-Plainsboro School District.
“My vision and hope is for West Windsor to be a place we can all enthusiastically call home — a chosen destination, not just a bus stop for public education,” says Hsueh.
“I have worked hard during my first term to establish a solid financial footing on which to fund new, controlled growth,” says the mayor. “I have delivered this, and if re-elected, I will maintain and strengthen this fiscal responsibility.”
The mayor points to his ability to establish relationships with officials at the federal, state, and county levels of government as being “imperative” to funding projects such as the re-design of Route 571 through downtown Princeton Junction.
“During my second term I would like to complete the safety improvements for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists both immediate and short term,” says Hsueh. “I am committed to advance the redevelopment of the train station area, which will be critical for the future of this community.”
Hsueh also promised to seek improvement of “recreational opportunities;” pursuing the acquisition of “key parcels of West Windsor’s remaining open space;” expansion of the township’s senior center and its programs; and investigating the development of a township museum.
Geevers, 45, is a 10-year resident of the township and has three daughters attending WW-P schools. She and her husband, Neil, live in the Hunters Run development.
In April, she will complete her second three-year term on the School Board. She has served as board vice president for three years, chaired several school district labor negotiations committees, and was chair of the administration and facilities committee for two years.
Geevers holds a degree in Communication Arts from Cornell University, which she earned in 1981. She also has a New Jersey real estate license. After college she worked at RKO Radio Networks in New York City as a newsroom supervisor and then at various radio stations in North Carolina and in New Jersey as a reporter/producer. In the late 1980s she decided to pursue a real estate career and worked at Murphy Realty Better Homes and Gardens in Oradell for seven years.
“I’m running for town council because I believe I can provide new leadership for and a unique point of view after having been a pivotal part of the school board for six years,” says Geevers.
During her years on the board of education, Geevers was a strong advocate of a strategic plan, which the board voted to accept in January after a year in planning. “The strategic planning process was very inclusive. I believe this type of planning would be beneficial at the township level. As we head towards full buildout, we need to create a township vision that is shared by all its residents.”
Geevers says her philosophy stresses “listening to all sides, in asking questions to make an informed decision, and then making the actual decision in a timely manner. I will ensure ongoing communication between the residents and council.”
Kleinman is an eight-year resident of the Dutch Neck section of West Windsor. She is a small business owner, running a private architectural firm for more than 20 years. She and her husband have two daughters — the oldest is a graduate of High School North, and her youngest daughter is a junior at North.
A member of the West Windsor Planning Board and Site Plan Review Advisory Board since 2003, she is also a founding member and treasurer of the West Windsor Arts Council. She is also a member of the group’s long-term planning committee and serves on the mayor’s Task Force for the Arts.
Kleinman says that as a member of the Planning Board, “I have been actively involved in evaluating and helping to steer some key township projects. These include expanded retail development at Nassau Park, and a new senior community on Old Trenton Road.”
Kleinman says that this experience will help in dealing with township issues such as the re-design of Route 571, the construction of a transit village at the Princeton Junction train station, and the development of a plan for the Cyanamid/Wyeth/Rouse property.
She adds that her volunteer work for the township “has allowed me to observe the professionalism, integrity, and visionary leadership of Mayor Hsueh. His inclusive approach to government, his commitment to community service, and his tireless efforts to bring a sense of what can be to our town has been inspirational.”