Written by Dave Gil de Rubio Friday, 28 March 2014 00:00
With retiring Village Administrator Robert Schoelle leaving such a large impression behind him, the Garden City Board of Trustees made an equally large splash announcing the hiring of former Glen Cove mayor Ralph V. Suozzi to be Schoelle’s heir apparent effective March 31. The announcement was made at the board of trustees meeting held on Thursday, March 20. Suozzi’s new responsibility as village administrator will find him reporting to Mayor John Watras and the board of trustees as the chief operating officer, responsible for leading and managing the daily operational activities of the village. The Glen Cove native was plucked from an initial pool of 120 applicants found by AffionPublic, a national municipal search firm that was tapped by the search committee of Trustees Richard Silver, Andrew Cavanaugh and Brian Daughney to aid in filling the position. The search process was an arduous one according to Mayor Watras.
“The committee I assigned to do the search did a wonderful job, spent many hours at it and brought to us a slate of very qualified people, including Mr. Suozzi who we think will be a very valuable asset to Garden City,” he said.
Having served four terms (2006-2013) as mayor of Glen Cove, Suozzi brings experience in technology-focused executive roles he served during a 20-year-career in the private sector with American Express and CBS. These were some of the factors involved with the decision to hire him according to Board Treasurer Silver.
“Ralph brings a wealth of experience to the village, experience that aligns extremely well with the criteria that we believed from the beginning were most important in our next village administrator,” he explained. “That includes a demonstrated record of achievement in the top executive role in a municipality, strong finance experience and a record of identifying and using technology to enhance municipal operations.”
Attending that evening’s meeting with his wife Jane, Suozzi stated how privileged he felt to be hired for the position.
“I recognize that I am succeeding someone in Bob Schoelle who leaves behind a rich and distinguished legacy on which I hope to build,” he said. “I’m honored to begin this new chapter in public service, working under the direction of the mayor and board of trustees for the benefit of the residents, businesses and visitors of the Village of Garden City.”
In accepting the position of village administrator, Suozzi will be paid an annual salary of $190,000. He will accrue benefits from the state retirement system that the village makes contributions to in the same way it does for all its employees. The incoming
administrator will get four weeks of vacation, prorated to three weeks for this year and if he’s terminated, he’ll get three months severance. Suozzi will also inherit the vehicle Schoelle currently uses. Finally, the ex-mayor requested that he receive at least one performance review per year from the board. In the meantime, Suozzi will continue to live in Glen Cove with his family.
And while Suozzi’s name is synonymous with being a member of one of the most powerful Democratic families on Long Island, Silver explained that his commitment to public service made all the difference and further research revealed that Suozzi had earned the respect of people from across the political spectrum over the years.
“[This was]demonstrated by letters of recommendation we received from congressmen from both sides of the aisle, which we will be posting on our website,” Silver said. “If the job we were filling was a political one, perhaps that would have been more of a consideration. But village administrator in Garden City isn’t a political job. It’s non-partisan and non-political. It’s the chief operating and finance officer of the village. While Bob Schoelle is not replaceable, in Ralph Suozzi we think we found a worthy successor, one who can build on the past successes and deliver us new ones.”
Schoelle will serve as a short-term consultant to assist Suozzi in the transition, as needed, under an hourly rate contract approved by the village board.