A lifelong Bridgewater resident, Filipe Pedroso just wants to see the township thrive as he prepares to begin his first full term on council after winning in the Nov. 6 elections.
"I am very pleased that the residents have confirmed that I have the right vision for Bridgewater," Pedroso said. "I have lived in Bridgewater for practically my entire life. I love this town dearly, and want to see it continue to be the absolute best place to live."
Republican incumbent Pedroso, who is finishing an unexpired term this year after Dan Hayes was elected mayor in 2011, received a total of 8,621 votes, while Democratic challenger William Metz received 6,764 votes.
"I hope to stay actively involved in the community doing some volunteer work, maybe even some committee work," Metz said. "My main focus now that the election is over, is to try to find a position in scientific research, preferably in medical research or academia."
As he prepares for his term beginning in January, Pedroso said he believes that with proper planning, controlled growth and good zoning, the township will continue to be a first-class place to live.
But Pedroso said he has already been focusing on controlling spending, improving infrastructure, protecting open space, controlling development and more in his past year on the council, and will continue to do so through his first full term.
"I am very pleased that the Bridgewater residents felt that I was doing a good job by electing me to serve," he said. "I want the best for this township and its residents, and will continue to do my very best."
And in the coming years, Pedroso said, he wants to put a focus on continuing to work on behalf of all Bridgewater residents, protecting quality of life, preserving open space and controlling smart growth.
"It's also important that we fight to keep Bridgewater among the lowest tax rates in the county," he said. "Residents don't need to be taxed more during these difficult times, so government needs to minimize any further financial burdens on individuals. I'll work with the council and the administration and do my part to institute fiscal conservative principals to prevent unnecessary tax increases."
Pedroso said that, with all the problems brought by the hurricane, he was fortunate during the elections in that he was able to vote in his normal polling location. But the day before the elections, he said, he began calling some of the voters impacted by poll closures throughout the township.
"Obviously, we weren't able to reach many, but I felt whatever I could do to help, if only a few people, would be better than nothing," he said.
And this, Pedroso said, is one example of the need for better communication in the town.
"I have school-aged children," he said. "Whenever there's no school, we get a phone-blast call. I think a system like that might be useful for the residents. Bridgewater could have a system where residents, if they chose, can provide us a cell or other number so that during an emergency we can send a mass communication alert. A system like that would have been beneficial getting information out to the residents."
Pedroso said he heard from many residents that they were frustrated by the lack of ability to get information when they didn't have electricity in the aftermath of the hurricane.
"Although many residents didn't have electricity or Internet, mobile telephones either kept working or residents were able to get their messages," he said. "So the township should look into a mass calling system where information can be quickly and regularly sent to our residents during emergencies."
Despite these issues, Pedroso said he is pleased with the response from residents, particularly in coming out to vote themselves.
"I think, overall, Bridgewater residents did an outstanding job and showed incredible patience in dealing with the situation at hand," he said. "The voter outcome was quite high, and I'm proud of our residents for managing to vote while many were dealing with very difficult and uncomfortable situations at home with no heat and no electricity."
And when it comes to his campaign itself, Pedroso said, he is proud to have run a clean and organized campaign.
But most importantly, Pedroso said, he is excited by the resilience of Bridgewater residents as they are dealing with the after-effects of the hurricane.
"There were trees on the roads, and electrical wires preventing access to many roads," he said. "Yet, Bridgewater residents fought all these difficulties and showed up to vote in large numbers. So, I am really most proud of them, our Bridgewater voters."
"The large number of voter turnout is a testament to the resilience of our residents, who still managed to get to the polls despite dealing with trees down, power outages, no heat, not to mention having to hunt for their poll locations," he added.