After nearly 16 years at the helm of West Windsor Township municipal government, Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh announced Tuesday morning that he would not seek a fifth term.
And within hours of Mayor Hsueh's announcement, the first of many potential mayoral candidates emerged. Former Township Councilman Kamal Khanna has tossed his hat in the ring.
The West Windsor Township mayor is directly elected by the voters for a four-year term.
Mayor Hsueh said he is ready to move to the next stage of his life, which includes spending more time with his family. His children are grown and he wants to spend time with his grandchildren. He said he does not want to be an "absentee grandfather."
Mayor Hsueh, who is 72, has served in elected office in West Windsor Township for more than 24 years. He served on Township Council from 1993 to 2001, when he was elected mayor. He has lived in West Windsor since 1985.
Mayor Hsueh, who announced his plans in front of township employees and township residents, pointed to the many accomplishments that have taken place in the last 15 years - from the West Windsor Farmer's Market to the West Windsor Arts Center, a bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly roadway system, and assorted traffic improvements.
He also noted that West Windsor Township has the highest bond rating of AAA, which means lower interest rates on borrowed money. The township has a senior center with "the best programs" for seniors and retirees. There are parks that provide sports facilities for residents of all ages, he said.
West Windsor Township has achieved silver status, which is the highest level bestowed on a community by Sustainable Jersey, Mayor Hsueh said. Almost half of the township land has been preserved as open space or farmland, he said.
Under Mayor Hsueh's tenure, the township constructed a skate park, a dog park and a cricket pitch in West Windsor Community Park, created the West Windsor History Museum and Environmental Education Center at the Schenck Farmstead, and opened Duck Pond Park on Meadow Road.
"I am very proud to say, this is the same community I began to serve as mayor 16 years ago. It is a community of diversity in terms of age, ethnicity, religion and economic status," Mayor Hsueh said.
The mayor thanked everyone who had voted for him and supported him over the years, the volunteers who serve on the advisory boards and committees, and the township employees.
"My greatest appreciation goes to this wonderful country of ours," Mayor Hsueh said. "As many of you know, I came here as a young man from Taiwan with $300 in my pocket, knowing very few people living here."
"The United States gave me opportunities I would never have imagined. Mine was the American Dream, and our country allowed me to fulfill my dream," he said.
"I am proud to be an American and happy to show my love for our country by giving back as much as I can, knowing that whatever I do, it will never be enough," Mayor Hsueh said.