It’s official. The race is on.

New Milford has a mayoral race, its first in several years and potentially the best in many years.

Republican mayor Pat Murphy, in power for nearly 12 years, is faced with a battle from Democratic challenger David Gronbach.

It marks the first time the longtime mayor has faced an opponent younger than she is, and one who promises to hold her accountable for her policies in recent years.

Gronbach said he is in the race to win.

He faults the Murphy administration for “constantly planning” and bringing little of those plans to fruition.

“You don’t need a traffic study to know there’s congestion in the downtown,” Gronbach said. “You need a vision for the future and to act on it.”

“The past 12 years have shown where the present administration has taken the town.

What’s coming to fruition is closing a school, haphazard development on Route 7, worse congestion at the bridge and empty storefronts in the downtown.”

The Republican caucus this week saw Murphy endorsed as the party’s mayoral candidate.

GOP town committee chairman Pete Bass likened Murphy’s management style to that of “a mother” who cares for her community with the skills a woman would bring to supporting her family.

“She takes care of our people as is reflected in an AA1 bond rating, the highest the town has ever had, and tax relief for our town’s emergency service personnel and our senior citizens,” Bass said.

Town councilwoman Katy Francis feels leaders of surrounding municipalities and state legislators hold Murphy “in high regard,” and, when speaking of her, she said they use terms like “integrity, respect, forthright and persistent.”

At the Democratic caucus, Gronbach was similarly endorsed with high praise from Democratic Town Committee chairman Andy Grossman.

“I am extremely excited about having David Gronbach as our candidate,” Grossman said. “He is extremely qualified, a local attorney and small business owner who understand the needs of the business community.”

“He will listen to the town’s residents. He understands the town’s issues and has excellent solutions.”

Murphy says the coming two years will see projects already underway come to fruition.

“We’re going to build on a lot of projects,” the mayor said. “The library modernization, expansion of the Richmond Citizen Center, and expansion of the Lanesville Road firehouse will all come together.”

“There’s important sports field improvements underway, including the parking lot expansion at Baldwin Park, and Lynn Deming will soon be upgraded — all adding to the quality of life in the town.”

Murphy said she is always “on the look out” for requests from the town’s residents and is conscious of meeting their needs.

Addressing the drug problem in the town, a symptom of the heroin epidemic throughout the state and nation, is already taking place, she said, with an awareness program being developed in partnership with the New Milford Youth Agency and New Milford Police Department.

The program will address the needs of those leaving incarceration, as well as heightening public awareness, the mayor said.

“And don’t forget Century Brass,” she added, in reference to the upcoming demolition and environmental cleanup of the former brass mill on Scovill Road.

For Gronbach, the Century Brass demolition is coming 10 years too late, like others of the present administration’s projects.

“Century Brass has been sitting there for how many years?” Gronbach asked. “If it were a priority, it should have been taken down 10 years ago and an industrial park already in place there, bringing in new industry and good paying jobs.”

The Democratic challenger said he has a vision for the town’s future that fellow Democrats share and have voiced on numerous occasions, only to have their ideas “usurped” by the Republican administration.

“We need to establish a comprehensive plan for the town to address all of the needs for development and improvement,” Gronbach said. “I’ve been talking about that in my platform on the Democratic Town Committee page.

“The fact that the mayor is just at this time realizing a strategic plan is needed is my point.

“Parroting is not leading.”; 203-731-3352