UNION COUNTY — Although the county kept the lid on things, there has been a lot of shuffling of personnel going on along with the reinstatement of a position that has remained vacant for two years.
Monday the county announced William Reyes, 39, the former director of Planning and Community Development for Elizabeth, was appointed as the new deputy county manager under County Manager Al Faella.
Although the position had not been filled since Elizabeth Genievich retired in early 2012, according to Union County Communications Director Sebastian D’Elia, given the workload of the county manager, it was time to bring someone new aboard.
Reyes, who will be making $133,980 annually, actually started Nov. 12 but the county did not immediately announce the decision. In fact, while there were rumors several county directors were leaving, few knew Reyes would be stepping in as deputy county manager.
Monday in a press release announcing the decision, Faella, who selected Reyes, praised him as someone who is a “sharp, personable and innovative administrator who gets the job done and does not shy away from challenges.”
“Bill is a man of great integrity and vision who developed a reputation as a ‘go to’ administrator, solved issues and developed programs in the City of Elizabeth,” the county manager said, adding Reyes has “an outstanding knowledge of local government and is ready for the next step in county government.”
Faella cited pending major initiatives with the golf division, jail and economic development, noting the time was right to select a deputy county manager.
“We are going to have to roll up our sleeves and get to work,” Faella said, adding Reyes would be able to greatly assist in the work ahead.
Reyes began his career in 1999 in Elizabeth’s Office of Public Information, moving up to serve as director of public relations before being selected as the director of Planning and Community Development several years ago.
In an interview with LocalSource late last week, Reyes explained he is more than prepared for the new position with the county, noting for example, that he was responsible for the management of the Economic Development and Public Information bureaus, Community Block Grant program, Elizabeth Home Improvement Program and Office of Relocation.
Among his accomplishments included the retention of Wakefern in Elizabeth, which required partnering to recruit stimulus financing to help the company expand and create 350 additional jobs.
Reyes said he also worked to secure $40 million in state funds for the renovation and reconstruction of the midtown Elizabeth NJ Transit train station, along with many other initiatives involving economic development. He also felt that the planning and strategizing he did while working for Elizabeth gave him experience that will serve the county well in his new position.
As for what his new job will entail, Reyes explained that with a 2,900 fulltime county employees, part of his charge will be assisting the county manager with executing control over policy development.
“I have dedicated the last 15 years to learning how government is run and now under the county manager’s direction, we are going to do a lot of great things,” the new deputy county manager said.
“I have known Al for 12 years. He is a take charge person and my job will be to be on the front lines helping him in whatever he needs,” said Reyes, adding that “I think we compliment one another.”
Reyes said that while working for Elizabeth, Mayor Chris Bollwage saw to it that he was able to get involved and learn.
“I think that experience will serve the county well because I can take what I learned while working for Elizabeth and apply it to the county,” he said, pointing out that he fully intends to let taxpayers know what the county does for them.
“The more they know, the better it is because then they know where their taxpayer dollars are going,” Reyes said, adding that “at the end of the day, it’s about residents.”
Freeholder Chairman Linda Carter welcomed Reyes to county government, adding that the board looked forward to working with the new deputy county manager.
“Bill has a proven track record as a respected administrator in the city of Elizabeth and has strong leadership qualities that should enable him to serve well in county government,” the freeholder chairman said.
Meanwhile, Matthew DiRado, the director of the Department of Administrative Services quietly left more than a week ago for a position in education. According to county sources, Norman Albert, a longtime Democratic with a law practice in Cranford, had already been moved into DiRado’s position, but no official announcement has been made by the county yet.
Albert and DiRado are partners in the Cranford law firm, Albert, DiRado & Kojac and while DiRado has been a fulltime county employee since being appointed as director of the Department of Administrative services, it is unknown how he continued to maintain a law practice at the same time.
Albert, a Cranford resident, has been an assistant county legal counsel, for which he was paid $113,300. It is unknown what Albert’s salary will be as the new Director of the Department of Administrative services or what his qualifications are in regard to this new position.
There are other positions open at the county as well. This includes the recent vacancy of the director of the Division of Parks and Community Renewal, previously held by Cherron Rountree, who left two weeks ago to take the position of Rahway’s administrator and the director of the Division of Facilities Management.
Niel Palmieri, the former director of the Division of Facilities Management, resigned suddenly a few months ago just before it was made public that he was involved in a deal with a vendor cheating the county out of several hundred thousand dollars.