There was no municipal election in West Windsor last month, but a new member still joined township council.
Andrew Hersh was appointed to a council seat following the resignation of council president Virginia Manzari. Manzari announced that she and her family were moving out of state and stepped down from her position at a Sept. 14 council meeting. Andrea Mandel will serve as the new council president.
“This move is bittersweet for me,” Manzari wrote in a letter to residents. “While I look forward to new adventures with my family, it means I have to say goodbye to a community that I love.”
That goodbye is a hello for Hersh, a longtime West Windsor resident. He and his wife, Maureen Connolly-Hersh, have two children, ages 14 and 7. He decided to pursue the vacant seat for one reason: “The opportunity to do more for our community,” he said.
Below is an interview with Hersh, conducted by The News. It has been edited for clarity.
The News: Have you held municipal office before, in West Windsor or otherwise?
Andrew Hersh: I have served on the West Windsor Human Relations Council for many years, focused on making it increasingly impactful into the everyday lives of our community. I believe that the HRC has done a good job building upon the work of the great folks who came before us. I look forward to supporting these efforts from my new role on council. I also currently serve as an appointed member of the Infrastructure Advisory Committee for the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. It is a state-level appointment.
The News: Where did you go to high school? Did you go to college? If so, where and what did you study?
Hersh: I moved in high school to Pennsylvania, but I started at Wootton High School in the D.C. suburbs of Maryland and finished at James Buchanan in rural Pennsylvania. My college alma mater is Penn State University. I studied business logistics, which today is better known as supply chain management. I have additionally completed senior fellowships with the George Washington University Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, and the McCrary Institute for Cyber and Critical Infrastructure at Auburn University.
The News: Are you involved with any volunteer or service organizations, in West Windsor or otherwise?
Hersh: Many. We are a service oriented family. I attempt the impossible task of trying to keep up with my much better half, Maureen, who seems to be able to do five things at once for 24 hours a day. My father and Maureen serve as constant inspirations in my life around making an impact for the communities we touch. My father focused his life on social justice and helping others. Maureen is driven by how many people she can support and inspire to do good in the world. I carry my father’s legacy and Maureen’s inspiration into my own service.
I mentioned my volunteer work with the state, which is driven by my need to apply my professional skills for the public good and the good of the state.
I volunteer with an organization called Business Executives for National Security, which takes on some interesting projects on a pro-bono basis. Last fall, a few folks and I met with President Duque in Colombia and engaged to support Colombia’s efforts to absorb migration from Venezuela into its economy and add business solutions to Colombia’s efforts to convert farmers from growing cocaine to growing chocolate. This is an impactful example of the type of work I and the group engage in, exclusively on a volunteer basis.
My balance to the national and international work at the local level has been on the Human Relations Council. My father led the Unity Coalition of Central PA and volunteered on the State of Pennsylvania’s HRC where he was awarded posthumously. Making an impact through the HRC took on even greater importance to me, as it was a way for me to honor my dad’s work. The same goes for my support of Project Freedom, as my dad’s employment was helping folks with disabilities live their most independent lives. Our family vacations were usually a trip my dad put together for this group to go to the beach or a game, etc.
I previously volunteered on the board of the West Windsor Plainsboro Soccer Association, and support as many local volunteer groups as possible. Maureen leads a number of local philanthropic initiatives which I and the family engage in. Bringing school supplies into economically disadvantaged communities, Ronald McDonald house, Arts Council, etc. We are a service-oriented family.
The News: Do you have any hobbies? What do you like to do in your spare time?
Hersh: Being active in all the things above, running a business, and now serving the community on town council, leaves little time for more prototypical hobbies. Being the loudest cheerleader for my kid’s sports is my favorite hobby.
The News: What inspired you to pursue the vacant council seat?
Hersh: I believe that I can be a force for good in the community, and have always been able to unite folks toward a common goal and overcome the tough obstacles to get there. I have concrete thoughts on how I may make an impact but, more importantly, we are a town of incredibly capable people—and being able to act on their goals and objectives will make this town ever-better.
The News: What do you hope to bring to the West Windsor Township Council?
Hersh: Results that improve the quality of life and reduce the ever-increasing tax burden on all members of the community. In addition to the important routine work of council, here are some specifics:
I’ve led us into a collaboration with Choose:NJ, a free resource to attract businesses into West Windsor and promote West Windsor to global businesses. Bringing in business ratables lowers the tax burden on families.
Working with WWPSA and the mayor, we are seeking a cost-neutral method to bring an indoor sports complex to West Windsor. Such a complex will solve a need that many of our sports teams have, and keep revenues in West Windsor that are currently being realized in neighboring towns.
Establishing a West Windsor Community Service Award for children and families, certified by the Mayor and Council, has been a goal of mine that I’m carrying forward from the Human Relations Council. Our town is filled with children and families that do service work every day. Their work builds the fabric of our community and we should recognize them. I can leverage the groundwork done by Council Members Mandel and Gawas with “Hometown Heroes.”
The News: What do you think are some of the most pressing issues in town? What do West Windsor residents want out of their municipal government?
Hersh: In any normal year the answer is budget and zoning, which translate into taxes, number of kids per class in school and quality of life. COVID-19 has created the pressing issue of supporting the community through this unique and difficult time, ensuring testing and future vaccination options are available, doing everything possible to support local businesses, and passing a town budget in a period of significant uncertainty.