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Taiwanese Immigrant Engineer Turned Mayor in West Windsor

Shing-Fu Hsueh
Former Mayor of West Windsor

Shing-Fu Hsueh (pronounced “Shay”) came to New Jersey from Taiwan in 1969 with $300 in his pocket and a heavy accent that required help from a speech therapist. Despite these challenges, he went on to become a successful environmental engineer, professor, and a four-term Mayor of West Windsor. “The United States gave me opportunities I would never have imagined,” he says. “Our country truly allowed me to fulfill my American Dream.”

Hsueh graduated from Rutgers in 1975 with two master’s degrees and a PhD in chemical engineering. He married his longtime sweetheart, Sue, in Taiwan and then returned to begin a 28-year career as an engineer at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. At the NJDEP, Hsueh helped forge the state’s first clean-water initiatives, and helped tackle flooding and pollution all across the state. “I was fresh out of school, but I had a PhD so they assumed I could deal with anything,” he recalls.

After growing up under martial law in Taiwan, Hsueh loved America’s vibrant democracy, and relished the chance to get involved in public service. He was elected to the West Windsor Council in 1993, swiftly becoming Council President, then elected Mayor in 2001, retiring from the NJDEP the following year to throw himself into his theoretically part-time leadership role.

It’s been such an honor to spend my career trying to help the people of West Windsor.

As Mayor, Hsueh created West Windsor’s first art center in 2009, and raised over $900,000 to double the size of the town’s senior center. He worked with nonprofit groups to create new sporting fields and Little League facilities. Hsueh helped restore hundreds of acres of local parkland and scenic waterways, preserved 1,000 acres of local farmland, and established West Windsor’s farmer’s market, now one of the country’s top-ranked markets.

Over the years, West Windsor has grown more diverse: the Asian population has risen to over 40%, up from 15% when Hsueh first took office. As one of New Jersey’s first elected officials of Asian descent, Hsueh hopes his example will inspire other immigrants to serve their communities. “When I was a kid in Taiwan, I dreamed of having this sort of opportunity,” he says. “It’s been such an honor to spend my career trying to help the people of West Windsor.”

About NAE

New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…