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Incumbents to Run Campaign With Focus on Resident Concerns

Incumbents Matthew Moench and Christine Henderson Rose win the Republican nominations Tuesday.

With a renewed commitment to knock on doors and speak directly to residents, incumbents Matthew Moench and Christine Henderson Rose said they will focus their upcoming general election campaigns on figuring out what the people want.

"One of the things we learned in this campaign is that it's important to knock on doors and greet people and have conversations, learn about their challenges and see how the township can help," Rose said. "We get to hear what the people's concerns are."

Moench received 858 votes, and Rose received 693 votes in Tuesday's , defeating challenger Mike Pestorius, who received 525 votes. Moench and Rose will run for two open seats on the township council in November, representing the Republican Party.

They will campaign against Democrats John Rooney and Mary Pranzatelli, who received 323 and 329 votes, respectively, and will run for council under the Democratic Party ticket.

"Of course we're extremely pleased, Chris Rose and I both love working on the council and we are dedicated to representing the residents of Bridgewater," Moench said. "We look forward to the opportunity to continue campaigning until November."

Moench said he also has every intention of continuing to knock on doors and speak to residents, planning to do so all summer.

"That is the most important way to meet people and understand the issues," he said. "We will continue to focus on topics that mostly concern residents, like lower taxes, efficient government, appropriate land use and recreational opportunities."

Moench said he was also pleased and surprised at receiving the most votes of any of the candidates.

"I'm certainly very humbled and honored by the results and the faith that the voters have shown me in choosing me to represent them," he said.

For Pestorius, he said he was pleased with the campaign he ran up to the primaries, and was convinced by his experiences to stay involved in the future.

"This was a learning experience," he said. "And there are still plenty of ways to get involved."

"I'm a competitor, so it's never any fun when you don't win," he added. "But I felt my message resonated."

Pestorius said he understands he came up a little short this year, particularly with how low voter turnout was. But, he said, he hopes what little turnout there was showed that residents are concerned about financial issues, which was a focus of his campaign.

"Congratulations to Matt and Christine, obviously the voters are pleased with what they are showing," he said. "I had  a good showing, and I'm thankful to people who took the time to vote. I couldn't have done it without the help of lots of people."

And, Pestorius said, he would not be adverse to running for council or another position again.

"I became more interested in local politics," he said. "And I could see myself staying involved."

But with the votes cast, Moench and Rose are preparing to run their campaign alongside current councilman Dan Hayes in his bid for mayor under the Republican party.

"Dan, Chris and I have worked great together on the council," Moench said. "We may not agree on everything, but we know how to think through everything, and I expect we will work great together on the campaign and hopefully next year."

Rose said she believes the team has a lot to offer the township, and that the votes were cast the way they were because residents are pleased with the current state of the township.

"I think that if people were unhappy, the outcome would be different, but I think that the town votes show the residents are OK with the direction the council is moving," she said. "I think we have already demonstrated our ability to lead, and we will continue to work with the team in the best interest of the township."

And for Rose, this will be her first time running a campaign for her own full three-year term, after running in 2010 for an unexpired one-year term after former councilman Patrick Scaglione was elected to the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

"I think there's a lot of experience in the group of folks working on this campaign, and I hope that now that the primaries are over, everyone will come together and support the candidates," she said. "It's different [from last year] because there's a team of people now, and it is nice to be with a team."

Voter turnout was low this year, with only 1,509 votes cast out of 28,122 registered voters in town. The township has 7,620 registered Republicans, and 6,476 registered Democrats.

Moench said he believes part of the low voter turnout throughout the day has to do with the residents' opinions about the township itself.

"When people are generally happy with their representation, they feel less compelled to come out and vote," he said. "I think as elected officials, we have a responsibility to make sure we reach out to those voters and encourage them to come out and vote more than they did today. We should give them appropriate outreach and make sure we see as much participation."

"I think in November, just by the nature of it, people will be more focused and the residents as a whole will be more aware," he added. "As party representatives, it's important for us to inform the party members of who the candidates are even if the vote is uncontested so they are aware of who is representing them."

And now the hard work for November's general election begins.

"I am just incredibly honored by the response of the Republican voters today," Moench said. "I look forward to meeting as many residents as possible, and hopefully representing them after November."

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