Long before Donald Trump promised to “Make America Great Again,” a ticket of long-shot Democratic challengers promised in 2011 to “Make Brick Better.”
The campaign slogan, combined with voter anger over a controversial budget referendum earlier that year, and issues of patronage positions in local government, ushered in an era where an all-GOP government in Brick would ultimately evolve to an all-Democrat government, encompassing both the council and mayor’s office.
Four years later, facing a challenge from a new slate of Republican candidates, the Democrats solidified their mandate in Brick, sweeping by a nearly two-to-one margin a race that could have shaken up the council majority.
“Four years ago, we had the slogan of ‘Make Brick Better,’ and we’ve done that over the past four years,” said Mayor John Ducey, one of those original four Democrats to win council seats in 2011. He left the council after being elected mayor in 2013, assuming office Jan. 1, 2014.
The Democrats say their winning strategy has been focusing on the basics: lowering debt, adding police officer, improving local parks and starting new community events.
“When I first became mayor, we thought we’d lower our debt by $6 million over four years, and actually by September of this year, it will be down $7.9 million,” Ducey said. “But we were still able to hire more police officers, improve our parks, and pave our roads.”
“I think we’re doing the right things, and people are happy,” said Councilman Jim Fozman, another one of the original group of Democrats who was victorious in the 2011 election.
Fozman said in his next term, he wants to continue expanding community projects such as the park improvements, Bricktoberfest, the Farmer’s Market and the community garden.
“Everybody feels good – it makes a big town have a small town feel,” he said.
Ducey said newly-elected council member Art Halloran, a victim of Superstorm Sandy who currently serves as a member of the planning board, will be taking an in-depth look at the township’s Building Department with the aim of improving it. Halloran is also the first resident of the township’s barrier island portion to be elected to council.
Lisa Crate, he said, will focus on community projects.
“We have some great new members,” Ducey said.
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With all 57 Brick districts reporting, according to the Ocean County Clerk’s office, the following results were returned:
Red Signifies Winners
Pannucci – 3,477
Ebert – 3,765
Conti – 3,783
Bacon – 3,602
Zapcic – 7,201
Crate – 7,031
Fozman – 6,868
Halloran – 6,866
Moore – 1,387