The Ridgewood Council expects within the next few weeks to further narrow the months-long search for a new village manager to final interviews of a handful of candidates, Mayor Paul Aronsohn said Thursday.
Over 50 applied for the position last year by the Oct. 19 deadline, Aronsohn said, and the council whittled down the pool for initial interviews in late November and early December. A second round of interviews is scheduled for next Thursday.
“Presumably we’ll come out of the interviews Thursday night with two or three candidates,” Aronsohn told Patch. “Within a few weeks we would have a third round interview.”
“Presumably after the third round we’ll have a village manager.”
Ridgewood has been without a permanent manager since August, when the council removed Ken Gabbert in a 3-2 vote. Heather Mailander, the village clerk, now oversees the day-to-day operations of the village as acting manager, her second time in the role. She served approximately five months prior to Gabbert's appointment.
Aronsohn said the length of the current process is due to the importance of the decision. As the village’s top administrator, the manager oversees 220 full-time and 67 part-time employees, and takes the lead in preparing a roughly $45 million annual operating budget.
As is typical for personnel matters, the council has discussed the position and conducted interviews behind closed doors. Aronsohn could disclose few details on the candidates currently being reviewed, but said they included individuals with both public and private sector backgrounds.
“We have a good mix of people. We have some high quality candidates. For people who have a background in municipal government or want to get into municipal government, Ridgewood is a good place to work,” he said.
Due to the village’s reputation, he said, he believed the council has been “able to get some of the best candidates.”
Though the process will continue in closed sessions until the council introduces a resolution to hire a new manager, Aronsohn said officials have received resident input and continue to welcome it.
“The village manager is often on the frontline with people interacting with government,” he said. “We want to get it right. We want to get someone who really embodies the values of the Village of Ridgewood. And I’m looking forward to finding that person.”