BRIDGEWATER, NJ - A lifelong resident who loves being part of the Bridgewater community, current council president Matthew Moench is preparing to continue investing in Bridgewater’s future with a run for mayor.
Moench defeated incumbent mayor Dan Hayes in the June primary to score the Republican nomination going into the November elections.
“I love being a part of this community, which is filled with residents who don’t just live here, but love living here, who care about the future of their homes and who want to see it thrive,” he said. “I love that this township continues to maintain its suburban roots and community nature, but that we still have recreation, shopping and employment opportunities.”
Moench and his wife, Stephanie, are both lifelong Bridgewater residents, and are raising their three children in town too.
A graduate of Bridgewater-Raritan High School, Moench attended Rutgers University, where he double majored in cell biology/neuroscience and political science. He then received his J.D. from Seton Hall Law School.
Moench has been practicing law for 12 years, and is now a partner with his own firm based in Morris County.
Aside from his regular job, Moench has served on the township council for three terms, as well as serving on the board of adjustment, planning board and Somerset County Planning Board.
With his wife, Moench started an organization called Bridgewater Cares to promote volunteerism within the community.
A lover of his community, Moench said the new mayor must build strong relationships with council members, and work collaboratively with them toward common goals.
“The mayor must recognize that each of these members was independently elected, has their own viewpoints on issues and has their own priorities,” he said. “Disagreements can be healthy, however, without an open dialogue and a spirit of collegiality between the mayor and council members, differences become harder to work through, and, ultimately, the public suffers.”
For the public, Moench said, the new mayor must increase communication about issues impacting the residents.
“I don’t know about other residents, but I receive frequent emails regarding the farmer’s market, but have never received an email reminding residents of an important planning board meeting,” he said. “Residents don’t have the time to comb through meeting agendas and minutes to uncover what important items are on agendas.”
Moench said the township should do better to inform residents about important topics, key meetings and items of interest.
“Most importantly, residents must have a meaningful opportunity to impact and influence those decisions,” he said.
The first way of helping the residents, Moench said, is through a process of reviewing the township’s master plan to determine what development is appropriate within the community and what areas of town are best suited for handling it.
“The residents have made clear that they are tired of the pro-development policies of the current administration and want to maintain Bridgewater as a primarily suburban community,” he said. “We need to make sure that we appoint residents to the planning board who are going to critically evaluate every development application that comes before the planning board and work to mitigate the impact on residents.”
On the budget side, Moench said he is planning to work with the finance team to implement an aggressive long-term plan to pay off the current debt and get Bridgewater off a cycle of borrowing for expenses that re-occur. Most of the borrowing, Moench said, comes from road and infrastructure improvements.
“Clearly, we can’t stop doing road work, but every year we should be paying more money down and borrowing less,” he said. “Over time, it will get us on a cycle of paying primarily cash for our road improvements and saving us millions of dollars on interest payments that we can put back into roads and infrastructure work or tax relief.”
In addition, Moench said, the township needs to continue to take advantage of its corporate tax base, while exploring increased shared services opportunities and evaluating how it conducts business.
“Our team will evaluate every aspect of our municipal operations with a fresh set of eyes, and look to do everything possible to ward off tax increases,” he said.
When it comes to roads, Moench said, he plans to implement a transparent, multi-year road plan that is open to the public. Each road, he said, will be evaluated based on objective criteria, like condition of the road, type of road, traffic volume, safety concerns and presence of schools.
“We will post all of those scores and then rank the roads for priority so residents know what the road plan is, can evaluate it and can hold us accountable if we fail to deliver,” he said. “I want residents to be able to access this information online, and also be able to track construction schedules and maintenance needs, as well as report concerns on roads all through an interactive webpage.”
Moench said he is excited to be part of the future of Bridgewater.
“This is the only home I’ve ever known and it is a part of me and my family,” he said. “I know the history of the township and I am deeply invested in Bridgewater’s future. I’m proud to be able to raise my children here and hope that they will love everything this town has to offer the same way I do.”