By Matthew Gilson | The Save Jersey Blog
It’s that time again, Save Jerseyas. As I did last year, I will be scouring the state for local candidates of the “Save Jersey Generation” who are looking to help our lead our party in the next decade and beyond.
This year, the first candidate I chosen to interview is Matt Seymour, a candidate for council in New Milford, a solidly purple town in the heart of District 38 where elections routinely come down to a handful of votes. Matt and his running mate, Mel Urena, are both first-time candidates facing off against two non-incumbent Democrats in an open seat race. Council control is at stake this year.
Matt is a 39-year old attorney who lives in New Milford with his wife, Lisa, and their fifteen month-old daughter. He is a graduate of both TCNJ and Seton Hall Law and began his legal career clerking for the Honorable Alan Pogarsky. Matt does extensive pro bono work with the non-profit Partners for Women and Justice, a group which represents victims of domestic abuse. He is also an active member of the Bergen County Republican Lawyers Organization and sits on the New Milford Rent-Leveling Board.
I sat down with Matt to discuss his vision both for the future of New Milford, and what he thought would make a victorious campaign this year. I could tell immediately that Matt is going to be a formidable candidate this fall because he already understands what it takes to win a local election.
He impressed upon me that he wants to make this race about New Milford, espousing wholeheartedly the mantra that “all politics is local.” Matt believes, as I do, too, that his race needs to focus on what’s important to New Milford.
Matt want to prioritize (1) stabilizing taxes and (2) government efficiency. But Matt said he was not satisfied to run on those issues alone. While he certainly is a fiscal conservative, he said that he wanted a well-rounded campaign that addressed not only a cry for fiscally responsible government, but a campaign built around all of the issues which face his fellow constituents on a regular basis. Whether this approach implicates the direction of the community as a whole, or simple things such as what programs will be available for residents to participate in, Matt feels that a candidate who simply repeats that they are going to lower taxes over, and over, and over again is a candidate destined to lose.
I would be hard pressed to disagree with this statement, and I was pleasantly surprised with the long verse of issues he was going taking on.
When discussing the current state of New Milford and its politics, Matt offered high praise for incumbent Republican mayor, Ann Subrizi. He praised both her strong leadership and ability to win elections. He pointed to her campaign as a model for what he wanted to do, bringing together all groups in the town for a common goal, not a partisan one. He said he would be proud to be a part of her governing team once he wins the election and will help to continue her good works, while of course providing an independent voice of his own. Matt rated the job of the incumbent mayor as excellent and, given her recent electoral result, I would have a hard time saying most of the town does not agree.
While national politics is something certainly to be left out of this race, we did discuss the race in District 38. Matt is impressed by the campaign of Anthony and Mark and looks forward to campaigning with them. He agreed with me that the strength of local candidates can only help to increase the chances of a district-wide victory. Matt believed a victory for himself, coupled with wins by John Cosgrove and his team in Fair Lawn, as well as Norman Schmelz in Bergenfield, would go a long way to helping Mark and Anthony across the finish line in November.
Matt and I have obviously talked extensively in the last few months and I have to say it has become a great pleasure to know him. He is an extremely intelligent individual and he gets “it” when it comes to what we are trying to do as conservatives and Republicans to win elections and bring about our values to elected office. I wish him the best of luck in November, and I look forward to joining him on the campaign trail in the next few weeks (click here to join’em now on Facebook).