By Lisa McNamara
After an extensive search, the Township of Livingston selected Barry Lewis as its new township manager.
Livingston Mayor Edward Meinhardt says, “We know we got it 100 percent correct” by hiring Lewis, who started March 1.
According to Meinhardt, township manager is one of the most important positions in a town and entails a tremendous amount of dedication and hard work, so it was important for the town council to get it right.
Lewis “was overwhelmingly enticing. He comes to us highly recommended with glowing past job performance and a multitude of different backgrounds,” adds Meinhardt.
Lewis recently served as village administrator for South Orange and has considerable experience serving as township manager and/or administrator for Spring Lake, Mountain Lakes and Mine Hill. In addition, he has CFO experience and started his career as a land use attorney.
“That legal background, for any town, is key,” says Meinhardt.
Township manager “really runs all the day-to-day operations for the town of Livingston.” All department heads report directly to him, and he will oversee 275 employees as well.
Filling the position of township manager didn’t come without any challenges. In November 2016, the township “parted ways” with Michele Mead and hired Greg Bonin to take over in August 2017; however, after seven days on the job, “Greg decided it wasn’t the job for him,” says Meinhardt.
Fortunately for Livingston, Russ Jones, deputy township manager for Livingston and town employee for more than 45 years, was promoted to acting manager to fill the vacancy after Mead’s departure and again after Bonin’s sudden exit. Meinhardt says, “All the residents of the town and especially the town council cannot thank Russ enough. He ran the town without missing any service that people expect living in Livingston.”
“We see Russ as the pillar of the township,” says Kathy Boffa, Livingston’s Human Resources manager. She explains, Jones, a Livingston resident, has basically assumed both roles, deputy manager and acting manager, since November 2106, and on March 1, Jones resumed his position as deputy manager.
Jones, according to Boffa, “is a wonderful human being, open-minded and a team player. I just can’t say enough about him. He’s everywhere, goes to every event and works 24/7 for the town, and that’s why he is so well respected in town.”
Boffa was one of the members of the selection committee for township manager. For the search, three committees were formed for employees, residents and the town council. Lewis “really fulfilled everything we were looking for. He had the legal and land use background, financial experience and vision. He will be a great addition and will do a great job as leader of the town,” says Boffa. On top of that, she notes Lewis has the NJ CMFO (Certified Municipal Finance Officer) certification, which qualifies him to serve as CFO for a township.
In addition to Lewis’ impressive resume, Boffa says he’s also a great communicator and “puts people at ease, very approachable.”
Boffa sums it up, “We’re all very excited to move forward with this new chapter.”