Listen to audio version of this article
Brookner is running against Councilman Matt Moench, the Republican nominee for the Office of Mayor.
InsiderNJ ran into Brooker, and he took time to answer questions on camera in this town where he says the breakdown of Democrat versus Republican nationally doesn’t match this year’s municipal elections.
It’s all local here.
Whatever happens in three weeks, “I think the election will be much closer than any election in Bridgewater in recent years,” Brookner said.
The main issue absorbing both candidates is overdevelopment, where the Democrat says the GOP – at war with itself, he noted – has a poor record.
“They have been part of what has driven overdevelopment for years,” Brookner said of the Republicans, noting the Center for Excellence project on Highway 202-206.
They enabled it, and now he wants to go in – if there’s still time for a reversal – and attempt to sensibly and transparently (lacking, he said, in the Republican era) scale down the beast.
“In particular, Mr. Moench has been supporting the Center for Excellence for years and years and pushing forward to make sure it’s approved,” the Democrat added. “Only when the public turned against the project, and it become clear to him he can’t win the mayoral seat supporting the project, did he decide to oppose the project. It’s very disingenuous.”
Brookner said he likes the overall concept of the project but acknowledged that it’s “way too big.”
“I hope the planning board finds a way to scale it back,” he added. “Unfortunately, Mr. Moench pushed it so close to fruition, it will be hard to push back.”
The full interview with Brookner can be viewed here:
Moench responded in a statement emailed to InsiderNJ.
“For the past two years while Jeff has been busy raising taxes on the Board of Education, I’ve prohibited
tax breaks for this development, barred political donations for redevelopers, and voted to revoke the redevelopment designation for the Center of Excellence,” said the Republican Councilman. “During that time, Jeff has never spoken up about this project or the overdevelopment changing our community. Before a week ago, I’m not sure Jeff has ever been to a Planning Board meeting, let alone demonstrated that he understands the intricacies of land use law and policy so that he can manage the future of development in our Township. He is content to allow the Center of Excellence project to move forward, as long as he can try to cast blame on me or the Republican party.
“However, Bridgewater residents know that soon to be former-Mayor Hayes was the driving force behind this application and that our Republican team is prepared to fight this application with every tool in our toolbox until it is improved to fit our community,”” Moench added. “Jeff can continue to misrepresent my positions on the COE all he wants. Voters weren’t fooled in the primary, and they won’t be fooled now. Bridgewater needs leadership that is ready to fight for our Township’s future, and that’s exactly what my team is ready to do.”