Democrats hold onto sole power in borough

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

Edmund O’BrienEdmund O’Brien

METUCHEN — Although all three Democratic incumbents held onto their seats in last week’s election, their Republican challengers said they were proud of their showing.

Next year, incumbent Mayor Edmund O’Brien will be returning for a third term, Councilman Rick Dyas will begin his second full term and Councilman Richard Weber will be serve his first full term.

Of the township’s 8,545 registered voters, 3,430, or 40 percent, voted Nov. 4.

O’Brien received 1,736 votes. His Republican challenger Thomas Frey received 1,599 votes.

Rick DyasRick Dyas

Dyas and Weber received 1,744 and 1,698 votes, respectively, compared to their competition for the council, Andrea Swykowski, who received 1,596 and Sueann Hansen, who received 1,553 votes.

According to O’Brien, the message and actions of his party resonated with voters.

"The keys to our success came down to three issues," O’Brien said. "We were able to hold the municipal tax rate steady, we continued to upgrade downtown, and we used televised meetings to present an open administration."

Despite falling short of his goal, Frey said he considered his run a modified success.

Richard WeberRichard Weber

"When I set out to run, I wanted to do a door-to-door campaign, showing up at the train station, the post office, etc. I achieved that," Frey said Thursday.

Frey also said that an off-year election did not work in the Republican ticket’s favor.

"I knew it would take an act of God to get elected. Voter turnout was low," he said. "We were hoping for 4,000[voters to come out]; we got close."

As for the incumbent council members, Dyas acknowledged the low voter turnout as well, but was pleased with the overall result.

"It feels good to know that people recognized the progressive things we’ve done in town as it pertains to traffic and taxes," he said.

When asked what issues he considered most important in his upcoming term, Dyas said, "We’ll be looking for ways to stay the tide of all this in-fill housing and we’ll make every effort to continue to keep taxes down."

Dyas also said that he plans to focus on the ongoing work on the full interchange at Routes 27 and 287.

Completion of this work is expected to greatly improve traffic conditions in the borough.

Weber said was looking forward to his first full term as a councilman and already has part of his agenda in order.

"I’m excited to be elected and serve the people of Metuchen," he said. "I’ll strive to preserve the older homes in our community and protect them from development."

Like the mayoral candidate at the top of their ticket, this year’s GOP candidates say the election numbers give them hope for the future.

"I’m disappointed that we lost and I wish our opponents luck," said Andrea Swykowski. "We won a number of districts. Our hard work paid off and we brought more people over to our side."

Sueann Hansen echoed the sentiment.

"I think our message is beginning to come to the public judging by how close the results were. We’ll have to keep working to get representation. I’m proud of how far we’ve come."

So what does a Democratic victory mean for Metuchen?

According to Mayor O’Brien, this year’s ticket will continue to build on their record.

O’Brien said the rebuilding of Borough Hall will continue.

The construction of that building was slowed by the current contractor’s financial problems.

According to the mayor, the situation has been rectified and the project is proceeding.

As far as specific plans for the borough, O’Brien mentioned the continued attention to the upkeep of downtown and the hopes to redevelop the defunct "Stop & Shop" site with a new supermarket.

"I am elated that people had the confidence to give me a third term," O’Brien said. "I’ll do everything I can to prove their trust is justified."