Scutari aide likely to run Union County

Sources say the freeholders are expected to appoint Ed Oatman, the chief of staff to state Senator Nicholas Scutari, as the 12th Union County Manager.

Union County Manager Alfred J. Faella, the top executive responsible for the day-to-day operations of a government that provides services to more than half a million residents, will retire effective March 1.

Faella, 62,is retiring after a 25 year career in city, state and county governments. Faella spent the last six years reporting to nine elected freeholders.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to have served the residents of Union County in this capacity,” said Faella, a lifelong resident of Union County, who lives in Mountainside, and is originally from Elizabeth.

Among the accomplishments Faella cited was rebounding to a AAA bond rating from the Great Recession, the expansion of programs and services, and the recovery from Superstorm Sandy.

Faella said he is looking forward to the “next phase” of his life, pursuing family, volunteer, recreation and travel activities.

Freeholder Sergio Granados called Faella, “a truly exemplary leader who has been passionate about focusing on quality of life issues facing our residents.”

In 1976 the Elizabeth Daily Journal led a crusade to end political patronage that resulted in the adoption of what was considered a more professional form of county government.

A 2006 payroll analysis conducted by the Union County Watchdog Association found that 542 county employees had the same surnames as area elected officials, although the study’s authors acknowledged that not all people with the same name are related and many relatives use different surnames as those with whom they are connected.

Despite complaints, the GOP has not won a county wide election since 1994. The last three Republicans, Henry Kurz, Frank H Lehr and Edwin H. Force, left on the Freeholder board in 1997.

Oatman’s wife, Michelle Jaker, is director of government affairs at Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield of New Jersey.

Prior to joining Horizon, Jaker, an attorney, was employed as a lobbyist for another New Jersey insurance company, executive director of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey and the chief of staff to state Senator Joseph Vitale, of Woodbridge.

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