- IN THE TOWNS
- ARTS / LEISURE
By: Cheryl Hehl - Staff Writer
UNION — Former Freeholder Deborah Scanlon was only out of office for a month before the county created a position for her in the Human Services department.
According to information obtained using the Open Public Records Act, the position was crafted for Scanlon, a resident of Union, who will be paid $74,900 for the administrative position in the welfare division of the county. Scanlon decided last March not to seek another term on the board and retire.
According to Union County Communications Director Sebastian D’Elia, the creation of the new position came at the recommendation of Social Services Director Charles Gillon, who said there was a need to create a managerial position with administrative duties.
D’Elia said Scanlon, who previously worked for a legal firm in Short Hills, had 30 years experience and was considered at the top of the list because of her extensive history as a paralegal. Scanlon will be assuming duties as a paralegal in the newly created position, which the communications director pointed out was an asset to the county.
“The choice was based on qualifications,” D’Elia stressed, noting it was an unclassified position, or not civil service.
“Regardless of her former freeholder role, her experience speaks for itself,” the communications director said, adding that this department was in the process of consolidation.
“They were moving 70 people to a different location and this was an opportunity to create a position that will handle many different issues involving welfare fraud, among other things.”
Confusing is that D’Elia said the position was created for Scanlon, but information obtained from a Position Control form obtained through OPRA indicated the position the former freeholder stepped into was to “replace a vacancy” made when assistant county counsel Brian Trelease left in October.
Regardless, the hiring of Scanlon comes less than a year after the county vacated as many as 148 positions due to retirements and layoffs.
As an assistant county counsel, Trelease earned $98,000 annually, but the proposed position information for his replacement changed to “confidential assistant.” The salary range for Scanlon’s position ranges from $54,080 to $81,120.
Scanlon, the mother of three and grandmother of nine, distinguished herself during her tenure as a freeholder by serving as an advocate for women, children and families in need.
After surviving cancer twice, the former freeholder spearheaded cancer prevention programs, including mammography awareness for young and underprivileged women.
Scanlon was a former Union Board of Education member, where she served as finance chair, liaison to the school boards association, and representative to the township committee.
Scanlon was born and raised in Summit, moving to Union in 1983. She is married to Patrick Scanlon, former mayor of Union and member of the governing body.
Her tenure as freeholder was not without controversy, though. Scanlon’s son, Patrick, was the target in several investigations involving missing equipment and narcotics charges.
One of the investigations was done by the county. This investigation began Jan. 30, 2012, prior to Scanlon announcing her retirement as an elected official.
According to court documents, Union County Police were contacted to investigate parks maintenance equipment missing from the county service yard. Scanlon Jr. was one of several employees questioned regarding the matter.
Although further information was sought on resolution of this matter, according to county police records, the investigation was categorized as active and on-going by county police until new information was gathered and leads explored. To date there has been no news as to how this investigation proceeded.
Activist Tina Renna took legal measures to try and uncover if nepotism played a factor in the county investigation of Scanlon Jr., but was denied access to those records by the court.
Scanlon Jr. has suffered multiple indictments, for narcotics charges and theft. He was on probation in Middlesex County from 2009. It is unknown if Scanlon Jr. is still on probation.