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Gabbert Confirmed as Village Manager

Councilman Paul Aronsohn abstains from vote.

Kenneth Gabbert was officially named Ridgewood's newest village manager Wednesday. However, his appointment did not come from a unanimous vote.

At the Oct. 28 Village Council meeting, Mayor David Pfund, Deputy Mayor Keith Killion and Councilwoman Anne Zusy confirmed Gabbert's appointment, in a 3-0-1-1 vote.

Aside from Councilman Patrick Mancuso's absence from voting, Councilman Paul Aronsohn, after voicing his dissension in a prepared remark, abstained from approving Gabbert.

Gabbert, currently the borough administrator for Little Falls, also has served as Saddle River Township's mayor since 1995. Aronsohn decided to dissent from his colleagues because he believed Gabbert shouldn't have to "serve two masters."

"The person should have one professional responsibility... I think it's wrong to appoint a person who can't fulfill the job full time," he said prior to the official council vote.

Calling the vote "possibly the most important of our council careers" because of the manager's importance, Aronsohn apologized that Gabbert's confirmation wouldn't be unanimous.

Following Gabbert's approval, Pfund praised Gabbert for being the best candidate out of many worthy applicants.

"I find his financial background and qualifications will be a wonderful addition to Ridgewood," Pfund said.

Gabbert holds a masters in business administration from Arizona State University. Prior to his administrator position in Little Falls, Gabbert also worked in a similar capacity for Westwood and New Milford.

Following the meeting, Gabbert said he felt "great. I look forward to working with the council and village management to continue the precedent set."

Although Zusy approved Gabbert's appointment, she said she respected Aronsohn's decision. "He did what he thought was right."

In an interview with Ridgewood Patch, Aronsohn talked about his decision to abstain instead of simply voting "no."

"It was hard enough break ranks," he said. "I think it was good enough to withhold my support."

Aronsohn said he never doubted Gabbert's qualifications, he just doesn't think someone should hold multiple municipal positions.

As the village is organized, the manager possesses essentially all executive positions. He or she is charged with the village's day-to-day operations, and nearly all departments report to the manager.

Gabbert will replace Village Clerk Heather Mailander, who has served as acting village manager for five months. In her last meeting in the position, she thanked friends and family for their support.

"Ridgewood is blessed with a professional management staff," she said.

Gabbert officially starts Nov. 2.

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