BRIDGEWATER, NJ - With a Republican sweep of the mayoral and council seats in Bridgewater Tuesday, mayor-elect Matthew Moench said his team is thankful for everyone who participated in the elections, and grateful that so many people are passionate about serving in Bridgewater.
Moench earned 6,382 votes to defeat Democrat Jeffrey Brookner with 4,411 votes and Libertarian candidate Gregg Mele with 242 votes, for the mayoral seat.
Moench’s running mates – Michael Kirsh and Timothy Ring – received 6,300 and 6,238 votes, respectively, to defeat Democratic challengers John Arcoleo and Patti Selikoff, who earned 4,495 and 4,544 votes, respectively.
“It was a great win tonight for our team and for Bridgewater,” Moench said.
Now, Moench said, the team will be focused on making good on their promises from the campaign.
“We are looking to implement our vision for lower taxes, fiscal responsibility, preserving the town, fighting overdevelopment and creating a long term infrastructure plan," he said.
Moench thanked Brookner for his service to the community.
“Jeff has served on the board of education for 12 years, and he deserves the community’s thanks for his service,” Moench said.
Moench said this was a hard-fought campaign, between the primaries when he went up against incumbent Dan Hayes for the Republican nomination, to the general election.
“The town should be thankful we have so many people who are so passionate about serving,” he said. “But given the results of both elections, we are confident the Bridgewater voters have spoken, and support our vision. Now we will work to implement it.”
Moench said the turnout was slightly disappointing, though understandable since it wasn’t a presidential or gubernatorial year.
For machine votes Tuesday, about 28 percent of registered voters cast a ballot, but that did not include vote-by-mail ballots, which could potentially increase the turnout to about one-third of the 33,069 registered voters in town.
“I think that while we exceeded the benchmark for turnout from the 2015 elections, it is still only about one-third of voters (who came out),” Moench said. “It is important to have voters participate in the electoral process.”
Brookner said his team is proud of the work they put into the campaign.
“While we’re disappointed, we’re proud of the effort we made and the gap in the mayoral race from four years ago to now has been cut in half,” he said. “Congratulations to Mr. Moench on a well-run campaign. I wish him and Bridgewater a great four years.”
Arcoleo also congratulated his opponents.
"I congratulate the winners of the election," he said. "I wish my friend, mayor elect Matthew Moench, all the best as he seeks to address the needs of all Bridgewater's residents."
Arcoleo also congratulated county winners, as Democrats took wins for sheriff and freeholder.
"I also welcome the new sheriff in town, Darrin Russo, and the new freeholder, Melonie Marano," he said. "I got to know them very well on the campaign trail. I was proud to support them, and they will do an excellent job for the people of Somerset County."
Brookner said the Bridgewater Republican primary was rough, and, afterward, he was braced for an ugly campaign in the general elections. But, he said, that didn’t happen.
“I was relieved to see that both sides kept mostly to the issues,” he said.
Mele said it was a tough race for him to get his message out to the masses.
“The main thing is I got into this race primarily because we had a Republican team that was borrowing and wanted to spend, and a Democratic team that wanted to raise taxes,” he said. “My goal was to cut spending.”
Mele said he heard those concerns when he spoke to residents around town, but he was unable to reach enough people.
“My concern is always for the town, and I hope the new team will take us in a good direction,” he said. “I will certainly be paying attention, and I hope we will move in a positive direction in the future.”
Kirsh said the engagement from voters throughout the campaign and now has been amazing and energizing.
“We had many thought-provoking discussions on door steps and over the phone,” he said. “Our team is committed to fulfilling the trust that’s been placed in us.”
Ring said he thanks their opponents for a well-fought campaign.
“And I thank all the voters for having confidence in us,” he said. “One volunteer described us as having values, integrity, community, friendship and acceptance, and those are traits that I look to continue to embody during my term.”