Lynnette Iannarone has been reappointed as Brick Township clerk.
Two weeks after a failed attempt by three members of council by appoint former councilwoman Kathy Russell to the position, a majority of council members favored reappointing Iannarone, a 17-year employee of the clerk's office.
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it," said Councilman Dan Toth. "In seven and a half years, I have never received one complaint about the municipal clerk's office at all. The only thing I've ever heard from residents … were commendations."
Republicans accused three Democrats on the council of playing politics with the position by favoring Russell, a fellow Democrat, for the position over Iannarone.
The same three council members who supported Russell's appointment at the May 7 meeting – John Ducey, Susan Lydecker and Jim Fozman – voted against appointing Iannarone on Tuesday, saying they would rather appoint someone who would make less money.
Iannarone made $105,184 in 2012, records show.
But Council President Bob Moore, a Democrat, broke party ranks to support Iannarone. The council's three Republicans, Dan Toth, Joseph Sangiovanni and Domenick Brando, also voted in favor of appointing Iannarone.
The 4-3 vote led to a round of loud cheers from the audience who came to the meeting.
Democrats Concerned Over Tenure Issue
Now that Iannarone has been reappointed to her position for another three year term, she will gain tenure in the position as clerk, meaning she would have to be dismissed for cause rather than the mere preference of a future township council.
"This is a guaranteed position for life if it's voted in," warned Fozman, before the vote.
"When you do the math, ten more years of employment, that's a million dollars," said Ducey, suggesting a new clerk be hired for a lower salary than Iannarone's. "I feel personally obligated to protect the taxpayers of Brick with the one thing I have control over."
The council, under Brick's form of government, is empowered to appoint a clerk when there are no tenure issues involved.
But Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis had his own suggestion for saving money: eliminating salaries and health benefits for council members, which he said can cost $175,000 per year.
"Instead of saving the million dollars on Lynnette's salary over the next 10 years, you can save $1.7 million over the next 10 years," said Acropolis.
Ducey shot back that Acropolis had "threatened" township employees with layoffs in past township budgets, implying that it was hypocritical for the mayor to defend Iannarone's position.
Iannarone's current term as clerk ends June 30 and her new term will begin the following day.