Public Info

Union County Manager George Devanney Announces Retirement After Three Decades of Public Service

Cites strong record of fiscal management, economic development
and quality of life improvements in Union County during tenure

Union County, NJ –  After 27 years of public service, Union County Manager George W, Devanney today announced he will retire on August 1st,  citing landmark achievements in conjunction with the Freeholder Board in economic development, the implementation of far-reaching quality of life improvements such as the Open Space Trust Fund, and the maintenance of fiscal stability through the nation’s worst economic downturn.

“I have been privileged for the past three decades to serve the residents of Union County and  the State of New Jersey in public life,” said Devanney, a lifelong resident of Union County who resides in Berkeley Heights with his family. “I would like to thank our residents, the Freeholders, and the many public officials and private partners who I’ve worked with over the years in making Union County one of the greatest places to raise a family and work.”

“There have been many challenging issues and the past few years in particular have presented many difficulties at the governmental level, but working together with a dedicated County Government team we’ve been able to do great things for Union County,” adding he will remain dedicated to serving the residents of Union County through his involvement on various boards and community organizations.

“I have been privileged to make many great friends as well during this time, and while I will miss working with many of them on a daily basis, I do plan on remaining active,” Devanney said. “I love Union County and will remain committed to keeping it great.”

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders, who appoint the County Manager, will soon meet to discuss filling the position. Additionally, Deputy County Manager M. Elizabeth Genievich announced her retirement effective February 2, 2012, and will remain to assist in the transition of the Administrations.

“We have an incredibly talented staff and our preference would be to fill the job internally,” said Freeholder Vice Chairman Alexander Mirabella.

Devanney added he had been thinking of retirement for the past year, noting that pension and retirement changes weighed in on his decision as well as his desire to spend more time with his family. He added he has been enjoying coaching his son’s PAL team in Berkeley Heights, and will continue to devote time to it next season.

Professionally, Devanney said the time is right for him to continue to “seek new challenges” and explore new opportunities with his wife, Angela Devanney and her firm, Keywood Strategies, in the private sector.

On behalf of the Board of Chosen Freeholders, Freeholder Chairman Deborah P. Scanlon thanked Devanney for his years of service.

“George’s management has proven to be top-notch,” Scanlon said.  “He has implemented the policies of the Board with the utmost professionalism, and was not afraid to make tough decisions. He had the foresight to initiate innovative and meaningful projects long before they were popular elsewhere. His leadership and vision will be missed.  On behalf of the entire Board of Chosen Freeholders and County Government, we wish him much success in all of his future endeavors.”

Included among the many administrative accomplishments Devanney cited working through the Freeholder Board are:

•  Maintaining the highest attainable bond rating;

•  Having one of the best debt to assessed value ratios in the state with one of the highest percentage of County revenues in the state obtained through grant funding;

•  Linking merit increases to performance indicators and implementing  personnel policies that have saved millions of dollars in taxpayer funds;

•  The creation of a partnership with the American Automobile Association (AAA) to deliver the County’s life-saving Child Safety Seat Inspection program, the creation of a discount prescription drug program for County residents, and the Senior Home Improvement Program, which helps senior citizens with repairs to their homes;

•  The creation of a Countywide Shared Services initiative which has saved municipalities millions in tax dollars. This includes measures such as the creation of a Countywide EMS pilot program which saves lives and the creation of a shared service 911 dispatch system;

•  The creation of the Homeland Security Committee which has applied for and received millions in funds for public safety.

Devanney’s success in obtaining grant funding, economic development, building the  County’s shared services initiative and the Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation program are also the result of his skill in coalition building and network of statewide and federal contacts built over the years, Freeholder Scanlon noted.

“His style has been that of a consensus builder who can bring people around the table to talk,” Scanlon said.

Working with the Freeholder Board to create the Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund which was approved by voters in 2000, Devanney cited the preservation of more than 300 acres of open space, as well as the opening of several new parks,   and improvements to dozens of playing fields across the County.

During his tenure, the County launched two “one-stop” centers to serve the needs of residents looking for work and developed the Port Master Plan to encourage development near Newark Airport and Port Elizabeth. Union County College and the County’s nationally top-ranked Vocational Technical School also expanded their facilities during this time.

Other projects have included the construction of the Ralph Froehlich Public Safety Building, the Park Madison Building in Plainfield, the award-winning Juvenile Detention Center in Linden, and the LEED-certified Westfield vehicle storage facility. The Golf clubhouse and banquet facility is under construction at Galloping Hill in Kenilworth. This facility will also contain the headquarters for the New Jersey State Golf Association, and is a key component of the golf division turnaround Devanney helped engineer that made its operations profitable.

Devanney also helped launch the Jersey Gardens Mall, while he served as the chief economic development adviser as the Director of Policy and Planning for Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage. The Mall, the largest outlet mall in the state which employs thousands, opened in 1999.

“As I look back, I am proud of the record of achievement of my tenure as County Manager,” Devanney said.  “Serving the first decade of this century has seen times that are both prosperous and frugal, but together, working with a dynamic and energetic Board of Chosen Freeholders and an enthusiastic and knowledgeable group of Directors, we have ensured that Union County remains on the map as one of the best places to live and work.  Ensuring fiscal responsibility and accountability, maintaining a superior quality of life and developing partnerships are key roles of government and we have accomplished all of them. There have been challenging moments, but those have been far outweighed by the times of great achievement.  I thank you for the opportunity to serve; it has been an honor and a privilege to do so. “

Devanney was appointed County Manager in 2002, following a four-year tenure as Deputy County Manager.   Devanney previously served as a member of the Elizabeth Development Company Board of Trustees, Executive Director of the NJ Democratic State Committee, Special Assistant to the NJ Senate President, and Chief Legislative Aide for the 20th Legislative District Office.  He is a Board member of the Love, Hope, Strength Foundation, the Union County Alliance, and the Runnells Foundation. A graduate of Rutgers University, Devanney earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science.


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