The Bridgewater mayoral election is coming down to the wire, and I want to take this last opportunity to explain why I think I deserve your vote to be the next mayor of Bridgewater Township. I hope you will not be swayed by my opponents’ huge budget, which is funding a flood of fancy fliers and slick, professionally edited videos. Instead, I urge you compare the candidates based on their backgrounds, experience and ideas.
My running mates and I are running on a Change4Bridgewater platform with three themes – Truth, Transparency and Civility – and three issues – Stopping Overdevelopment, Improving Roads and More Responsible Budgeting. We have proposed significant, detailed reforms, including:
- Livestreaming council and planning board meetings (which we are already doing on our campaign YouTube channel)
- Putting proposed ordinances and other documents on the internet for all to see, BEFORE the Council votes on them
- Using all lawful means to fight against the Center of Excellence project
- Revising municipal ordinances to require better, unbiased studies of traffic, flooding, and other concerns for major projects
- Putting a renewed focus on repairing roads and other township infrastructure
- Reducing debt by paying for routine maintenance out of the operating budget instead of leveraging our children’s future by borrowing to fund these expenses
I would also love to share a bit about myself and my experience so you have confidence in me as your choice for Bridgewater Mayor. My wife Carrie and I have lived in Bridgewater for over 20 years. We love the town and all that it has to offer, and are proud to have raised our children here. Both of our kids attended B-R schools from kindergarten through 12th grade. Over the years, I have enjoyed countless soccer, baseball and basketball games (including as a volunteer coach for the Bridgewater Recreation Department), scouting events, band and orchestra concerts, dance recitals and other events throughout this fabulous community.
For the past 12 years, I served on the board of education. I poured myself into this role, spending thousands of hours participating in meetings, attending events, exchanging emails and even answering questions when stopped at social gatherings or while shopping at Wegmans. I’m happy to have done all of this as an unpaid volunteer, because I am deeply committed to Bridgewater.
During my time on the BOE, my colleagues and I have faced some extremely difficult challenges. Devastating cuts to state aid in 2010. A Columbine-like threat to the high school (which proved to be credible). Schools closed for over a week due to Sandy. Surging enrollment, followed by declining enrollment. Twelve rounds of union negotiations. You name it, I have seen it and dealt with it. Many leaders would have wilted under the pressure, but I strive to maintain an even keel and do the right thing for Bridgewater’s students, staff and taxpayers.
With my son out of the nest and my daughter soon to join him, I felt it was time to bring new individuals to the BOE, and I was looking forward to supporting the township in new ways. Several members of the local Democratic Committee have been recruiting me to run for a township office for years. As I watched the divisive Republican primary playing out this spring, I became concerned about who our next leaders might be. So I ultimately agreed to throw my hat in the ring, and I’m glad I did.
As I immersed myself in township issues, I became aware that the mayor and council weren’t doing enough (or, in some cases, anything) to address many of Bridgewater’s problems. Development is happening too fast, resulting in increased traffic, flooding, tree-removal, etc. The township’s roads are a mess. The police department is clamoring for more officers. Debt is rising rapidly, increasing almost $15 million in the last eight years. And all of this happens under the radar, because meetings of the township council, planning board and other important governmental bodies are not run transparently.
I have the skills and experience to tackle these issues, and I’m equipped to step right into my role as mayor. In addition to my service on the BOE, I have been an attorney for the last 25 years. For the last 10 years, I have owned my own practice in Bridgewater, representing individuals and small companies in their business-related matters. This has often included support of and opposition to development applications, before planning boards as well as trial and appellate courts. Notably, I handled the successful opposition to the 18 Homes development here in Bridgewater.
I have also served for the last four years on the board of the Somerset County Business Partnership. In this role, I have established positive, working relationships with countless businesspeople around the area, as well as county, state and national politicians from both sides of the aisle. If elected, I will be able to leverage these relationships to help get things done here at home.
Bridgewater needs new leaders to step in and tackle the township’s problems. I hope you will agree that I am that guy, and cast your vote for me and my running mates, John Arcoleo and Patti Selikoff, this Tuesday, Nov. 5.