The Republican Committee held a vote Monday to choose three candidates to be narrowed down to one to fill the seat on the township council vacated by Mayor Dan Hayes—and the chosen three were residents Aaron Kurdyla, Filipe Pedroso and Beth Powers.
These three will be presented to the current township council, who will vote on the one person to fill the seat. The actual date of the vote has not yet been scheduled.
There were a total of six candidates vying for a position on council, and aside from the three who will be presented to the current council were Patricia Casamento, Gail Jorgensen and Michael Pestorius.
According to Scott Stephens, chairman of the Republican Committee, 55 people [members of the committee] cast votes, for a total of 162 votes cast.
Kurdyla, a lifelong Bridgewater resident, is currently a director of operations for High Tech Landscapes Inc., working with condo associations and businesses as a manager.
"I understand what people expect for a community as a whole," he said. "Managment of issues is paramount for a seat on the council."
In addition, Kurdyla has been involved with the recreation department, and said he understands how important that is to the community, despite its costs.
Kurdyla has also served as coordinator and coach for the Bridgewater Youth Lacrosse Program, as well as on the board of trustees for the Michael Bruce Fund Inc.
Still, Kurdyla said, he is simply looking to maintain the quality of life in Bridgewater.
"I commit to work together with the mayor and council to find the best efficiencies coupled with the best services to offer the lowest taxes to residents," he said. "My goal is to continue to maintain and build upon the quality of life in Bridgewater."
But Kurdyla's father, current council president Allen Kurdyla, said he understands the implication of a conflict of interest in this case, and he does plan to recuse himself from the vote for a new council member.
"To me it's frustrating, but part of me understands," he said. "I hope people judge on who he is, and not toss him out because he's my son."
Allen Kurdyla said his son was the one who brought up the idea of running for council when the opening came up.
"He told me he would like to screen for it," he said. "He is active in town and has been doing this for a while. But I'm my own person, and Aaron was brought up to be his own person."
Kurdyla said he does plan to recuse himself from the vote to avoid any perceived conflict.
"I know there is an issue that my father is on council," Aaron Kurdyla said during his speech before the Republican Committee. "I was raised to have my own opinions and speak for myself."
Also to be presented before the council is Pedroso, who is currently vice chairman of the zoning board.
"Volunteering and community involvement have been very important to me," said Pedroso, who owns his own law practice. "Membership in the zoning and planning board has been excellent service."
"I am the only candidate who not only has membership in boards, but has served for almost a decade," he added.
Over the years, Pedroso, an almost lifelong Bridgewater resident, has served with the , as well as the Bridgewater Open Space Committee, the Somerset County Young Republicans and other organizations and committees.
"Under the leadership of former Mayor [Patricia] Flannery, Bridgewater has maintained the lowest tax rate in the county, lets keep it that way," he said. "I see Bridgewater will survive economic times, and thrive in it, and I believe we all share in this vision."
Pedroso said his goals include creating land use ordinances that protect quality of life and prohibit overdevelopment, while also using smart planning to ease traffic and providing essential services in town.
"My vision for Bridgewater is a township with safe and vibrant residential neighborhoods, and a vibrant business community," he said.
The final candidate is Powers, who said she has been asked to be a candidate before.
"I was asked to run for council 15 years ago, and had to turn it down because I had a job, two small children, a husband with a demanding job and had committed myself to volunteering," she said. "Now I have the time and energy to devote to it."
Currently, Powers is an administrator for Jans Realty LLC, as well as an executive assistant for W.J. Casey Trucking & Rigging Co., Inc., but has also been a part of the community as a whole. She said she worked on the open space referendum, and has served as a PTO co-president, among other volunteer work.
"I find myself expressing my opinion more than ever, so I decided to put my passion in a positive way," she said. "I know true satisfaction and happiness comes in giving back to my family, friends and community."
Powers said she has worked on business development, financial planning, lease negotiations and other work through zoning and planning boards, among other work.
"I am pro-business, but I also want to control development, and it is important to find a balance between the two," said the 26-year Bridgewater resident.
"I promise to devote all time necessary to the council position, and in the fall, I would do everything I could to be elected," she said.
The council plans to announce the date of the upcoming vote in the coming days. With council president Allen Kurdyla planning to recuse himself from the vote, council members Howard Norgalis, Matthew Moench and Christine Henderson Rose will be the only three to vote.