Springfield police chief adds town administrator to duties

SPRINGFIELD, NJ — Police Chief John Cook has added the duties of township administrator to his role — at least temporarily.
Cook, who will remain chief of police, was appointed as acting township administrator April 24, following the resignation of Ziad Shehady. Cook took on the new position April 27.

Shedhady resigned this month to take a similar position in Red Bank.
The township administrator is responsible for the day-to-day operations and overall management of all municipal departments.
A resolution to appoint Cook passed 4-1, with Springfield Township Committee Commissioner Maria Vassallo casting the lone vote against the measure.

“I received this (resolution) at 6:02 p.m. this evening, this is not personal,” Vassallo said. “But I do not understand how we can be so quick to do something like this. How can we pass this and not have a discussion on this? We are not making the right decision here.”
Mayor Richard Huber noted that the appointment is only temporary until the committee can discuss filling the full-time position at its May 7 meeting.

The timing and execution of the resolution was also questioned by resident Jerry Fernandez during the public comment portion of the meeting.
Fernandez asked Huber how he expected the committee to vote on a resolution added so late to the agenda. He also questioned how the chief will fill both roles, and how much time the chief will commit to the administrator position.

“This is a position that pays quite a bit for a reason. This decision should have been discussed among the committee,” Fernandez said.
He also suggested that the committee should have tabled the resolution or have gone into closed session to discuss it.
“I needed someone to be the administrator,” the mayor answered. “It is my recommendation on a temporary basis. We need someone to be in charge. I told everyone here at the next meeting we could put someone else in charge.”

Cook did not respond to questions from LocalSource as to how he will tackle two township positions before press time this week.