First it was Mayor Pfund. Now it's Judge Pfund.
After a 3-2 vote, the Ridgewood Village Council Wednesday night appointed David Pfund as the next man to don the robes of the Sydney Stoldt Court Room.
Mayor Paul Aronsohn, Councilwoman Gwenn Hauck and Deputy Mayor Albert Pucciarelli voted in favor of the appointment. Councilman Tom Riche and Councilwoman Bernadette Walsh were the two dissenting votes.
Pfund's appointment comes on the heels of the resignation of long-time judge Philip F. Sheridan, who was given an ultimatum when a new law barred law firms from employing municipal judges if they donated to political campaigns.
Sheridan's firm, Archer & Greiner, made more than $330,000 in contributions since 2003. A public records search yielded no political donations made from his law firm, nor Pfund himself.
According to Riche and Walsh, the village missed an opportunity with the Wednesday night appointment.
"While I'm sure Dave will do a wonderful job, this town missed an opportunity for a long-time shared services possibility where the taxpayers certainly could have saved money," Riche said.
Both he and Walsh favored Ridgewood sharing a municipal judge with another municipality.
Pucciarelli, however, said the caseload in Ridgewood justified having a full-time judge. He noted Pfund won't be collecting health benefits and that his salary is lower than Sheridan's. The former mayor's appointment would not preclude the village from exploring shared service agreements going forward, Aronsohn added.
While Pfund will be making less in salary than Sheridan had made, the exact figure was not immediately available, according to Village Manager Ken Gabbert. He said the salary is in the range of $16,000-$25,000.
The former mayor wasn't the only local politician considered – former councilman Steve Wellinghorst also had been considered before dropping out weeks ago, sources said. Several other candidates have also been sitting judges, like Judge Russell Teschon, who holds court in Wyckoff and Glen Rock.
Pfund, a Ridgewood resident who graduated from RHS, was a member of the council from 2002-2010 and served as mayor from 2004-2010.
Admitted to the New Jersey state bar in 1991, Pfund chose not to run for re-election in 2010 so as to focus on his law practice, Pfund and McDonnell. The firm, based in Ridgewood, is just steps from Village Hall. Pfund has never been a judge before.
Pfund has served on the zoning and planning boards and has been active as a youth sports coach.
Pfund will begin hearing cases next week. His term ends on June 30, 2014.
"I'm just very excited to serve the village in this capacity," Pfund said following the appointment. "I look forward to the opportunity to do so."
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