Winston Ho 何嶸.
Rutgers University, New Brunswick,
Departments of History and Asian Languages and Cultures
2016 Jan. 22 (updated 2020 Sep. 15, Tuesday).
[Cynthia Lee-Sheng for Councilwoman-at-Large, 2015.]
On 2019 Oct. 12, Cynthia Lee-Sheng 朱嫦娥 (R) was elected parish president of Jefferson Parish, the first woman to serve in that office, and the first Asian American parish president in the history of Louisiana. Lee-Sheng was born and raised in Metairie, Louisiana. She is the daughter of the former sheriff of Jefferson Parish Harry Lee 朱家祥 (1932 → 2007) (D), and the granddaughter of restaurateur Lee Bing 朱炳韶 (1903 → 1973). Lee-Sheng was a graduate of Mount Carmel Academy High School. she holds degree in Business Administration from Loyola University of New Orleans, and she earned a Masters in Public Administration from George Washington University. Before entering public office, she served ten years as an officer in the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS, the predecessor to USCIS), and five years as a CPA and certified fraud examiner.
Two years after her father’s death, Lee-Sheng was first elected to office in 2009, when she was elected parish councilwoman in Jefferson Parish from District 5, a district extending roughly from Airline Highway to Lake Pontchartrain, and from the Orleans Parish line to Transcontinental Blvd. Running as a Republican, Lee-Sheng ran in a district had been vacated by another female Republican, Jennifer Sneed (R), who was leaving politics. Lee-Sheng ran against and defeated a third female Republican, Julie Quinn (R), who had served on the Jefferson Parish School Board for four years, and then as a state senator for four years, before running for the District 5 seat. Lee-Sheng won a decisive victory without a runoff despite a difficult and often negative campaign run by both sides.
[Cynthia Lee-Sheng in 2019.]
As a councilwoman, Lee-Sheng was best known for leading an initiative to bring new investment to a commercial district in the center of Metarie known as Fat City. Historically known for its bars and restaurants, Fat City retained the atmosphere of a rough adult-oriented entertainment center, the remnants of an earlier version of Jefferson Parish. Lee-Sheng hoped to change zoning and liquor permitting procedures, limit the hours bars could open, and fund drainage and street improvements to transform Fat City into a family-friendly district for shoppers and diners. The initiative brought her into conflict with local bar owners, though she enjoyed the support of restaurant owners, the Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission (JEDCO), and then Jefferson parish sheriff Newell Normand.
In 2014, Lee-Sheng’s husband, Stewart Sheng, a former science teacher at the Isidore Newman School, died suddenly from a heart attack at a young age. The following year, in 2015, Cynthia Lee-Sheng was elected unchallenged as councilwoman at-large from District B. Among other things, she was a leading voice in banning short-term rentals in most of Jefferson Parish in 2018, which remains legal and regulated in neighboring Orleans Parish. She was also among the first to call for the previous parish president, Mike Yenni (R), to resign from office in 2016, when the married father of two was revealed to be involved in a sex scandal with a male high school student. The controversy was one of the reasons Lee-Sheng ran for parish president, and though Yenni refused to resign, he ultimately choose not to run for reelection.
[Cynthia Lee-Sheng for Parish President in 2019.]
In primary election of 2019, Lee-Sheng ran against another earlier president parish, John Young (R), a former political ally, who had served two-terms and was popular at the time he was term-limited out-of-office. She defeated him by a decisive margin, so that a runoff would not be necessary. Governor John Bel Edwards (D) was running for re-election in that same election, but was forced into runoff. When Lee-Sheng first ran for office in 2009, she had little political experience and was best known as the daughter of the controversial yet still popular Harry Lee. Since that time, Lee-Sheng has developed a style and reputation of her own, more diplomatic than that of her sometimes abrasive father, though with the same willingness to take decisive action on controversial issues.
NolaChinese: Cynthia Lee-Sheng 朱嫦娥 (https://nolachinese.wordpress.com/2016/03/09/cynthia-lee-sheng/).
Jefferson Parish President official website (http://www.jeffparish.net/government/parish-president).
Cynthia Lee-Sheng campaign website (https://www.cynthialeesheng.com/).
Cynthia Lee-Sheng official Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/CynthiaforParishPresident).
Rainey, Richard “Cynthia Lee-Sheng isn’t quite a chip off the old block.” Times-Picayune (2009 Apr. 12). Accessed from the Times-Picayune (https://www.nola.com/news/article_fffc46d2-e752-5669-8cae-f1dd0a05ddd2.html).
“Cynthia Lee-Sheng, Jefferson Parish Council.” 2014 American Planning Association Awards. Accessed from the APA (https://www.planning.org/awards/2014/cynthialeesheng.htm) or Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSDHhcDcIg4).
Obituary for Stewart Sheng. Times-Picayune (2014 Feb. 24). Accessed from the Times-Picayune (https://obits.nola.com/obituaries/nola/obituary.aspx?n=stewart-sheng&pid=169858926&fhid=5630).
“Gavin Sheng Honors His Late Father Stewart Sheng.” JesuitNOLA. Accessed from Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qkOgSDY82w).
Calder, Chad. “Little opposition expected to short-term rental ordinance before Jefferson Parish Council.” Times-Picayune (2018 Feb. 20). Accessed from the Times-Picayune (https://www.nola.com/news/article_77ce2083-abbd-54a0-943f-ad00479190c0.html).
“Short-term rental law defended by Cynthia Lee-Sheng, Jefferson Parish Council.” Times-Picayune (2019 Feb. 21). Accessed from the Times-Picayune (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZk4M3x0Pw8).
Vargas, Ramon Antonio. “Teen at center of Mike Yenni sexting scandal reveals identity to rebut claims he is lying.” New Orleans Advocate (2016 Dec. 3). Accessed from the New Orleans Advocate (https://www.theadvocate.com/new_orleans/news/politics/article_f22bf75e-b9bc-11e6-acd7-2bdbc8a569c5.html).
Calder, Chad. “Cynthia Lee-Sheng will run for Jefferson Parish president; Here’s how her decision affects field.” Times-Picayune (2019 Jan. 23). Accessed from the Times-Picayune (https://www.nola.com/news/article_24d363ef-0035-5a68-a3bb-69bedb77ddb0.html).
“WDSU projects Cynthia Lee Sheng as Jefferson Parish president.” WDSU, 2019 Oct. 12. Accessed from Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5w5ZVaXTpuM).
Roberts, Faimon A. III. “Jefferson Parish: Cynthia Lee-Sheng is 1st woman elected president.” Times-Picayune (2019 Oct. 12). Accessed from the Times-Picayune (https://www.nola.com/news/politics/elections/article_60d6a246-eacd-11e9-b97c-effa0c4cf813.html).
Normand, Newell. Interview with Cynthia Lee-Sheng. “Lee-Sheng: Personal losses gave me a strength to ‘go for it’ in Jefferson Parish race.” WWL-Radio (2015 Oct. 15). Accessed from WWL-Radio (https://wwl.radio.com/blogs/newell-normand/lee-sheng-personal-losses-gave-me-strength-go-it).
Scram, Kelesy. “Interview with Cynthia Lee-Sheng.” Jefferson Parish Pulse, JEDCO. 2019 Dec. Accessed from JEDCO (https://www.jedco.org/2019/12/jefferson-parish-pulse-cynthia-lee-sheng/).