Hanover names New Jersey native as next town manager

  • Alex Torpey (POLITICO Pro - Stephen Voss)

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 5/17/2022 10:12:04 PM
Modified: 5/18/2022 12:09:05 PM

HANOVER — The Hanover Selectboard announced the hire of Alex Torpey, a New Jersey native with a background in municipal administration and digital media communications, as Hanover’s next town manager.

Torpey, 34, will start in the position on June 27, replacing retiring town manager Julia Griffin, who is stepping down after 25 years as Hanover’s top administrator.

In a Tuesday phone interview, Torpey said his interest in the outdoors, strong communities and sustainable environmental policies were among what made Hanover and New Hampshire appealing.

“Sustainability is such a big value to me,” Torpey said. “And Hanover has done so much in that area.”

Torpey has more than a decade of experience in municipal politics and administrative work, dating back to 2011 when, at age 23, he was elected mayor of his hometown of South Orange, N.J., which has a population of 16,000 residents.

Torpey has taught at Seton Hall University since 2014 and has subsequently served as a municipal administrator in Lambertville, N.J., and Leonia, N.J., where he focused on long-term budget planning and transparency, community engagement and emergency preparedness, according to a news release from the town of Hanover.

Torpey said he deliberately sought a position in communities such as Hanover that display a high level of community engagement and collaborative partnerships with local organizations, as well as a “town-meeting style of government,” which Torpey said can encourage public communication and transparency.

“Good decisions tend to be made when people are well-informed,” Torpey said. “And I think that Hanover has a strong history of that.”

Torpey cited a lack of public transparency as a central conflict during his employment in Lambertville, where he served as a business administrator from April 2019 until July 2020, when he was terminated by then-Mayor Julia Fahl.

According to a December 2020 article on NJ.com, Torpey said his relationship with Fahl soured in the summer of 2019 when Torpey called attention to the city’s emergency management coordinator lacking the proper certification to hold the position. Torpey alleged that Fahl said she would not remove the coordinator “because he was an important political supporter.”

Torpey also alleged that Fahl repeatedly violated New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act by discussing city business with city councilors outside of public meetings and that Fahl directed Torpey to award a project to a public utilities company without the company having to follow the proper process.

In December 2020 Torpey filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging he was improperly terminated.

Torpey said his lawsuit was intended to guarantee him legal protections under New Jersey law, because the city officials allegedly violated several statutes when terminating him, including the requirement to allow any public employee the choice of a public or nonpublic hearing with the city council and the provision of a 90-day notice prior to termination.

“There were a number of workplace and related issues, such that I indicated my interest in leaving the position,” Torpey said Tuesday. “New Jersey state law has certain protections for public employees and business administrators. ... Filing suit, unfortunately, was the only way we could bring us back to adherence to state law.”

The city of Lambertville reached a settlement with Torpey for $75,000 in July 2021, according to a July 2021 article on NorthJersey.com.

Outside of work, Torpey enjoys camping, fishing, hiking and nature photography as well as reading, writing and travel.

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