BRICK – Voters will have four mayoral candidates to choose from on Election Day this year: Former councilman Domenick Brando, who is the Brick Republican Club’s nominee, will face off against Democratic Mayor John G. Ducey, who is running for re-election.
Also running are two Independent candidates: former Brick councilman Anthony Matthews and newcomer Rob Canfield, who has never held public office. In phone interviews last week, the four candidates were asked “What is the message you’re trying to get out to voters?”
John G. Ducey, 47, is an attorney who is seeking his second four-year mayoral term. He said he wants the opportunity to continue on the course he has set over the past three and a half years since he has been mayor.
“We want to continue to stabilize taxes and keep that trend going. In years before, there were large tax increases, but as a result of our debt reduction program, we are down $18 million in reducing debt over three and a half years,” Ducey said.
“I don’t want to go back to the days of lavish spending of $22 million on a park,” he said, referring to Trader’s Cove Park & Marina.
Ducey said he wants to keep the police drug unit and special enforcement unit fully staffed. “I don’t want to go back to the days when they were disbanded because we didn’t have enough officers,” he said.
“We have new parks, the Farmer’s Market, recreation programs, a community garden, and we’re continuing to fill empty storefronts to make Brick a friendly place to open new businesses,” he said.
“We want to maintain the course that makes Brick a great place to live and to raise a family,” said Ducey.
Domenick Brando, 49, is a retired police officer who served as a Brick councilman from 2010 until 2013.
“In the coming weeks and months I’m going to be laying out plans for my vision for Brick Township,” he said.
He said Brick has gone downhill in terms of crime. “We have become weak and vulnerable to gangs, drugs, and all kinds of crime. I want to make Brick one of the safest cities in America again,” Brando said.
“I know [Ducey] is going to go after me about the tax increase, but I want to expose him sitting on a huge surplus that is well over $10 million. I’m going to give a huge part of the surplus back to the taxpayers and give them relief,” he said.
“I want to get rid of the gimmicks he’s got going, the smoke screens for the people and the professionals he’s hired, giving patronage jobs to family and friends,” Brando said. “I’m going to expose why that is.”
Brando said he believes the mayor “gave away” Trader’s Cove by agreeing to lease out a section for a proposed restaurant.
“And now with the Foodtown deal, the town will lose $7 million,” he said.
Anthony Matthews, 55, works in retail management and served as a Brick councilman from 2004 until 2011.
“I will be an elected official for the people, not for the party,” he said.
Matthews said he was an Independent from 1979 until 2002, but when he ran for office he was told it was better to run as part of a political party.
“At that time, in 2003, there was a Democratic mayor and six Democratic council members, and I thought there were a lot of bad things going on, so I decided to run as a Republican,” he said.
He said he recently met with a mix of people who asked him to come back and run for mayor.
“They’re sick of Brick politics. They knew when I was there I did the right thing,” Matthews said. “I never hired my kids or my family members. I did the work of the people.”
Matthews said he has concerns about lead found in Brick’s drinking water, and why someone who was known to be a convicted felon was hired as the Executive Director of the Housing Authority.
“My decisions as mayor would be based solely on what is best for the taxpayers and residents of Brick, not for personal or party gain,” Matthews said.
Rob Canfield, 26, works as a patient care representative for a dental company in Toms River. He is also a volunteer minister in Tinton Falls, has a bachelor’s degree in pastoral ministry and is working towards a master’s degree in divinity.
“One thing that is driving me to run for mayor, the thrust of the campaign, is to help the people of Brick,” he said.
“People need to be more aware and have more of a voice in the operation of the town,” Canfield said.
As an example, he said he recently spoke to a resident who said that in addition to the council meetings there used to be workshop meetings where people could talk to the council and mayor about contracts coming up for a vote.
“Now it’s on the consent agenda for the vote without public opinion,” he said. “It’s not as open as it used to be. People ought to be able to give their input and ask more questions before the council meeting,” he said.
All four candidates said they would welcome the opportunity to debate each other.
Three council seats are also up for grabs in November: incumbent Democrats Heather deJong, Paul Mummolo, and Marianna Pontoriero are seeking reelection, and will face off against Republican candidates Marilyn Lago, John Ciocco, and Lois Turner.
The general election will be on Tuesday, November 7.