Change Address

VOTE411 Voter Guide

West Windsor Township Council {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

The West Windsor Township Council is the legislative branch of the government. The five members are elected on a non-partisan basis for four-year, staggered terms.The Council adopts the annual budget of the Township as well as salary ordinances for Township staff and officials.The Council relates to Township staff through the Mayor or designee. In West Windsor, the Council also sits as the Board of Health.At the annual organizational meeting in January, the Council elects a President and Vice President to serve for one-year terms. The Council President chairs the meetings.
CHOOSE TWO CANDIDATES FROM BELOW TO COMPARE
  • Candidate picture

    Kristin Epstein (N) Non-Profit Executive Director

  • Candidate picture

    Linda Geevers (N) Council Member

  • Candidate picture

    Virginia Manzari (N) Consultant; Volunteer

  • Candidate picture

    Yingchao "YZ" Zhang (N) Information Technologist & Business Owner

Change Candidates

Biographical Information

What do you consider the most important challenges facing West Windsor Township, and what personal and professional experiences have prepared you for addressing these challenges?

What are your thoughts on the Howard Hughes Corporation's proposal for a mixed-use development on the old American Cyanamid tract?

What are your recommendations to resolve the affordable housing issue in the Township?

Do you consider the installation of solar panels a good plan for the Everett Drive property next to the municipal complex, or would you recommend another use of this land?

Career *Executive Director, YingHua International School, 2013 - 2017 *Member, Township Environmental Commission 2014-2016 *Trustee, Friends of West Windsor Open Space since 2013 *President, Princeton Univ. Princeton Area Alumni Association, 2007 - 2014 *WWP Girl Scout Leader, 2008 - 2017 *Project Engineer, Environ International Corporation, 2005 - 2008 *Project Engineer, Golder Associates, 2000 - 2005 *Project Engineer, PBS&J & Buchart-Horn, 1997 - 2000
Education *Princeton University - Bachelor of Science in Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering: Environmental Engineering *Johns Hopkins University - Master of Engineering, Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering
Website https://www.workingtogether4ww.org/
The West Windsor Township Master Plan re-examination process, in early 2018, will affect how the Township addresses infrastructure, development, traffic, environment, and recreation. The current Master Plan (2002), was last re-examined in 2008. The needs of the Township have changed drastically since then. The new Master Plan will lead to proposed zoning changes that will be considered by the Township Council.

As a licensed Professional Engineer in civil engineering, I have the education and experience needed to update the Master Plan and evaluate the infrastructure needs of West Windsor. I have taken courses in roadway design, water system hydraulics, bridge and dam design, storm water management, and other infrastructure engineering. I have authored Pollution Prevention and Contingency Plans, planned sewer alignments, investigated wastewater treatment facilities, and conducted environmental site assessments at businesses and homes throughout NJ and other states. I have ushered businesses through permitting processes and compliance regulations in many communities. Also, through my non-profit leadership, I have business development, fundraising, and grant writing experience.
No decision should be finalized for the Howard Hughes Corporation’s property until the Township has undergone the Master Plan re-examination in early 2018. The Conceptual Plan presented by representatives of HHC on July 26, 2017 to the West Windsor Planning Board is wrong for West Windsor.

The Plan proposes a new development within West Windsor so large that it would require its own three to four K-12 schools, a fire station, a medical center, emergency services, and more. Yet, HHC fails to identify this needed infrastructure or its costs to West Windsor residents. The Plan will impose additional taxes and traffic on West Windsor without enhancing the quality of our community.

A parcel as large and significant as the HHC property merits smart planning that will improve, not burden, West Windsor, by increasing commercial ratables without adding to the student population. Our community is especially attractive to businesses that promote green energy initiatives and innovative technologies. The West Windsor Planning Board and Council should work together to ensure that the property is zoned to reflect these values.
West Windsor can add affordable housing inventory with minimal impact to our public schools by targeting residents who do not have school-aged children while addressing critical housing concerns. We can add affordable housing that is restricted to 55+ aged residents, with contracts in place to ensure that the housing will not be converted to unrestricted housing at a later date. We can include nursing homes, memory care facilities, dedicated accessible units, and special needs homes with affordable units or beds. We can also add one bedroom apartments and/or live-work units, where residents could live behind or above their small business or workplace.

West Windsor, however, faces a challenging affordable housing policy because we have an undeserved reputation of resisting it. The NJ Superior Court’s affordable housing decision is expected this fall. Within 120 days of when the judge issues her decision, our Township must submit an Affordable Housing Plan for the court’s review. Therefore, the current Planning Board and Council must be ready to act. The newly-elected Council members, whose terms begin in January 2018, will be responsible for enacting their predecessor's plan.
I was greatly disappointed that the solar micro-grid project at the West Windsor Municipal Complex was blocked by the current Council. If elected, I will work to reinstate the project.

This project would not only save taxpayers money, it would provide critical backup power to ensure that municipal services are no longer interrupted during storms. Solar panels would cover only 2.5 to 3.3 acres out of 45 acres of the municipal compound and would be hidden behind the existing firehouse building, landscaping, and screen fencing.

The micro-grid system is fiscally sound because it would provide lease revenue, free energy to 3 municipal buildings, and additional back-up energy. It would ensure electric energy residency and stability within the municipal compound, and thereby better enhance the ability of the Township to provide emergency services to the community during power outages. It would also include an education kiosk. Finally, West Windsor could remove the panels and restore the land to any use after fifteen years.

At a time when West Windsor seeks to attract green businesses to increase our tax revenue without burdening our schools, the micro-grid would be a great asset.
Current Elected Position Council Member 2005 - present
Career Residential Real Estate Referral Agent, and former Radio News Reporter/Producer
Education Cornell University, B.S. Communication Arts
Website TeamMarathe4WW.com
The 70/30 ratable ratio imbalance of residential/commercial must be corrected so that residents of all ages can continue to live and thrive in West Windsor. My team proposes the hiring of a Business Development Director with a proven track record of attracting and retaining high tech firms and other companies that will provide top earning jobs for our well-educated community.

A second challenge is managing the continuous growth in both the township and surrounding area. Through next year’s Master Plan review and through Concept and Site Plan reviews, thoughtful public discussions and innovative solutions will be necessary to negate traffic congestion impacts.

Third, we need to accelerate the pace of repairing deteriorating neighborhood roads, uprooted sidewalks, and tree pruning, among other infrastructure safety improvements.

Professionally, I have worked in the fields of radio news and residential real estate. Personally, I have been elected three times to Council, serving as President twice and Vice President three times. I have also been a member of the Planning Board and have been elected twice to the WW-P School Board where I held numerous leadership positions.
Residents across the township clearly rejected the Howard Hughes Corporation’s Concept Plan. Such massive residential housing would bring in upwards of 1,700 school-aged children, create the need for new schools and send our taxes soaring. Furthermore, I agree with the thousands of residents that have enthusiastically told me that they do not want the current research-office-light manufacturing zoning changed on the HHC property. There is no financial benefit to changing the zoning which would result in additional school children. More importantly, we desperately need additional commercial ratables and high-paying jobs. Just look at the NRG building on Rt. 1 as an example of a futuristic building with green jobs.

I encourage HHC to create exciting new plans for a spectacular hub for high tech companies and next-gen solutions. This site is one of the most valuable properties to be developed between Washington D.C. and Boston. There’s a great opportunity here to build a bold vision that satisfies the economic, professional and intellectual needs of West Windsor and the surrounding area.
West Windsor is a leader when it comes to affordable housing. We welcome people of all incomes and provide different types of affordable housing for varying needs. Two recent examples of building that will help meet our obligations is the construction of Project Freedom and the Artis Senior Living facility.

We await Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson’s decision on West Windsor’s Third Round obligation. Several sites are already being reviewed for the Third Round plan. If the assigned number is extremely high, then the Township will be compelled to appeal the Judge’s decision. For the sake of preserving our quality of life and excellent school district, we cannot allow such decisions to overwhelm an orderly land-use plan for how we are to exist. Too much residential growth coming in too fast will overburden our schools, infrastructure, EMS and the pocketbooks of our hard working taxpayers. With expert attorneys representing the Township’s strong record on fulfilling affordable housing obligations, we will be in a position of strength should we ever decide to go to court. Hopefully, there will be no need to do so.
As an immediate priority, the Fire and Emergency Management Services buiIding must be given a source for electrical backup power. In the 2017 Capital Budget, there’s a line item for the purchase of a new backup generator. This expenditure should be made as soon as possible.

We should also wire this generator and the existing generators together to provide good backup resiliency regardless of whether solar panels are eventually installed or not. A decision on whether to fund a further study on the solar panels will be made sometime in early 2018.

Through next year’s Master Plan review, I support having a discussion about all possible uses for this township owned property. Sustainability is important and must be done in a way that greatly benefits the township and not the pockets of the energy provider. A new idea for consideration is that the Recreation Commission would fund a feasibility study for a possible indoor athletic facility, perhaps with a community room or two.

Each idea should have detailed information and a cost benefit analysis since its impact will be for the long term.
Career Marketing Strategy and Business Development
Education MBA, Cornell University
Website www.TeamMarathe4WW.com
1) Preventing housing from being built on Howard Hughes property, which I’ll address in the next question; 2) Providing tax relief; and 3) Improving roads and infrastructure.

Municipal taxes have increased dramatically in the last 16 years, with residents now paying 70% of total taxes, an undue burden. Costco, Aurobindo and Amazon have all opened in neighboring towns, and represent lost opportunities for West Windsor. These are trends that must be reversed.

Marathe, Geevers, & Manzari will use a dedicated, experienced Business Development Director to proactively search for outside companies that are a good fit for WW and guide them through a streamlined process. Every single interaction with the township should be improved upon. Additionally, encouraging the transition of abandoned properties to new business entities will clean up WW’s blighted areas.

WW residents deserve a higher standard for roads, sidewalks, and other infrastructure repair and upkeep.

My experience: Zoning Board & Site Plan Review Advisory Board; Business development experience at Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, and two start-ups; Extensive budgeting experience; MBA from Cornell University.
It is the single greatest threat to West Windsor. This development which includes nearly 2,000 homes would be devastating - increasing our taxes, lowering our property values, increasing traffic congestion, and negatively impacting our schools.

Luckily, this land is not zoned for housing. It is ROM – Research, Office, and Light Manufacturing. Howard Hughes should build according to current zoning or sell to someone who will.

We’ve consulted a land use attorney who confirmed that maintaining the current zoning is our strongest legal strategy. Changing the zoning to allow any housing at all would give the developer considerable leverage in court to sue for even more housing units. This happened at the Transit Village, when a new designation allowed 350 homes. That 350 turned into 800 homes after the developer sued for more.

The mayor has a major influence on the Planning Board, which will revise WW’s Master Plan by mid-2018. We will not allow a change of zoning through the Master Plan either.

Marathe, Geevers, & Manzari are unequivocally opposed to changing the zoning to allow housing construction, and unlike our opponents, we have ALWAYS been unequivocally opposed.
West Windsor has always acted responsibly in planning for affordable housing. The current lawsuit by the Fair Share Housing Center is unfair and far-reaching. They have sued towns all over NJ. The number of affordable housing units they’d like West Windsor to provide is 1,976 homes. Given the standard ratio of affordable to market rate units, that would translate to a total of nearly 10,000 homes – roughly the same number of homes that exist in the township today. That is unreasonable to say the least.

We expect the judge to come back with a reasonable number, given that the expert that she appointed is recommending one, a proposed 1,001 units. The township has a plan to accommodate them, without using Howard Hughes land. If the judge returns with an unfair number that's closer to Fair Share’s 1,976 units, then we will fight that in court. Given the precedent that has been set by other townships’ settlements, it is reasonable to assume that even in a worse case scenario our number will still be manageable. The township has locations for up to 1,400 units, again without touching Howard Hughes land. We will use whatever legal means necessary to prevail.
This process lacked transparency, which is an unacceptable way to conduct township business, and I am opposed to this particular plan. After a thorough analysis, if it is determined that installing solar makes sense, then they should be installed on buildings or over parking lots where they won’t destroy fields and farmland in a prime location in the center of town. Additionally, advanced developments in solar should be explored (rather than implementing old-generation solar), so that we get the most benefit and the greatest value for any investment we make. Included in that exploration should be new technology solar shingles (rather than panels) that are more attractive and sturdier than old-generation solar, and less costly than a regular roof.

I would much rather see that land used as a community space – perhaps a sports-focused area – something that could be used to bring residents together to enjoy the land we are fortunate to have. Over the years, residents have continued to express the desire for a gathering space for community activities. The Rec Commission has offered to fund a feasibility study, at no cost to taxpayers, and I would like to pursue that.
Current Elected Position Member of Board of Education, WW-P School District
Career Scientist by Education (PhD in Physics) Technologist as Profession (Data Network) Businessman in Operation (Sales and Management) Musician with Passion (One-Man-Band)
Education Post-Doctoral Fellow, Columbia University Ph.D. in Physics, SUNY at Stony Brook B.S. in Physics, University of Science and Technology of China
Website https://www.workingtogether4ww.org/
High property taxes are the biggest challenge facing our residents. Since 56.7% of our tax levy goes to the school district and 23.7% goes to Mercer County (including 3.4% for open space and public library), only 15.6% (including 0.8% to the municipal open space fund) is left for the Township. The most effective way to control our taxes is to introduce more commercial ratable.

Given the high concentration of a highly-educated workforce and many universities in this area, former Congressman Rush Holt initiated “Einstein Ally” to attract innovative research-based companies. West Windsor should fully tap into this initiative to leverage its networks and identify opportunities to bring high tech and other companies to the Township. These businesses will not only generate more tax revenue, but also increase local green jobs. With over 20 years of experiences in the IT industry, as a technologist and a businessman, I have the background to contribute to this effort. A year and half ago, I moved our international company’s American headquarters to Carnegie Center. We should establish a business advisory board to identify and seize more business opportunities for West Windsor.
My first reaction was “Howard Hughes was too huge,” as I stated at the public hearing hosted by the Planning Board. The Plan’s proposed 1,976 homes would add 1,500-2,000 students, which would increase our school population by 15-20%. As a WW-P School Board member, I know that our schools are nearing maximum capacity and cannot absorb that many students in existing schools.

West Windsor should work with the Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC) to create a new plan for the 653-acre property that best serves the Township. For example, the Township’s proposal to attract Amazon’s second headquarters, although likely a long-shot, will help the Township better prepare for similar, perhaps smaller, opportunities.

While the best outcome is to keep the original zoning to build research and office buildings at the HHC site, we must acknowledge that West Windsor has a legally-binding affordable housing obligation. Prior to the Superior Court decision, it would be irresponsible—and perhaps quite costly—for a Township official to unbendingly claim, “absolutely no rezoning for HHC.”
The township may have missed the opportunities to reach a reasonable settlement with the Fair Share Housing Center (FSHC), the nonprofit that the courts have empowered to negotiate with or sue municipalities that have not met their affordable housing obligations. As a result, West Windsor is now subject to the Superior Court’s upcoming ruling. Should the situation arise again, I favor trying to craft a settlement that benefits all of West Windsor, instead of leaving our fate to New Jersey courts, a lesson we should have learned from our long years of litigation with Toll Brothers.

I support the Township’s current policy to spread out affordable housing units throughout town instead of clustering large developments of high-density affordable housing. We should add affordable housing in a variety of settings and sizes to meet the needs of all low-income residents. With our close proximity to the expanding medical complex of the University Medical Center at Princeton, West Windsor is ideally located to attract affordable housing for seniors and for residents with special medical needs.
I consider the solar micro-grid at the Everett Drive property next to the municipal complex an excellent plan to increase Township revenue and to provide additional backup power. The Municipal Complex should have adequate power during power outages, which may become more frequent as weather systems become more severe. Some suggested to use the land for recreational activities, and I have a different view on this. In West Windsor, 49.8% of land is preserved as open space today, and the township has plan to purchase more, which I support. The Township offers many opportunities for more future recreational facilities if and when in high demands. The relatively small parcel between the Municipal Complex and the train tracks is well suited for solar panels that will be hidden by landscaping and will enhance West Windsor’s reputation as a green community.

VOTE411.org logo

Disclaimer:

All statements and videos are posted directly by the candidate, unedited by the League of Women Voters and do not express the views of the League. The League never supports or opposes candidates or political parties.