Brick Mayor John Ducey on Friday announced he will seek a third term in office after winning the township’s previous two mayoral races in a landslide fashion. The township’s Democratic organization also announced its slate of council candidates to fill three open seats this year, including one newcomer, with new faces adorning the Republican ticket for November’s election.
“My primary goal as mayor is to keep property taxes stable while also providing a high level of services to our Brick residents,” Ducey said in a statement.
Ducey, who frequently describes himself as a fiscal conservative, entered office with plans to reduce the township’s debt and stabilize municipal property tax rates. By most measures, he has succeeded, including shepherding the township’s first tax cut in decades in 2017. In his announcement, the Democratic mayor touted a number of accomplishments, including average 1 percent tax increases per year during the eight years he has been in office, compared with a 6.6 percent average increase the previous eight years.
Ducey immediately made a splash upon entering office, becoming the first mayor in New Jersey to eliminate the unpopular red light cameras, calling them a “backdoor tax on residents.” The state legislature soon followed Ducey’s lead by eliminating the red light camera program statewide and ending a pilot program that allowed them to be deployed in certain towns.
Ducey has also carved out policy positions opposed to fellow Democratic Governor Phil Murphy on a number of issues, most notably Murphy’s stance on sanctuary cities. Ducey was the first mayor in the state – Democrat or Republican – to speak out against Murphy’s sanctuary city plan. He has also opposed state funding cuts to Brick Township’s public schools. At the same time, Ducey has worked with Murphy’s administration to obtain funding for local projects in Brick, including the paving of roads, the acquisition of open space and roadway elevations in the town’s coastal neighborhoods.
Ducey is running on a ticket that incumbent council members Marianna Pontoriero and Heather deJong, and newcomer Derrick Ambrosino. Ambrosino currently serves as an appointee to the board of commissioners for the Brick Township Municipal Utilities Authority. He will run for the seat currently occupied by Councilman Paul Mummolo, who did not seek re-election after serving several terms.
Brick Township not elected a Republican to local office in over a decade, however the GOP will also run a full slate of candidates this year. According to records obtained from the Ocean County Clerk’s office, Ducey will be challenged by Theresa Gallagher for the mayor’s seat.
Gallagher will run with a ticket that includes council candidates Perry Albanese, Ernest C. Arians and Mary Buckley.
Brick’s form of government operates under the “strong mayor” system, wherein the mayor has significant authority to make appointments and shape township policy. The council is made up of seven members and acts as a legislative body, promulgating ordinances, approving budgetary actions and making their own appointments, sometimes under advice and consent doctrine.
With three council seats up for grabs, the Democrats will retain a majority regardless of the outcome of the election, though Republicans are expected to make a significant push to return to office following a decade-long electoral drought.