Bergen Record

By Chris Harris

Ridgewood appointee making her rounds

RIDGEWOOD — Her official first day was Monday, but Roberta Sonenfeld got a head start as Ridgewood’s new village manager three weeks ago.

Sonenfeld, a 17-year village resident and the first woman to hold the village’s top administrative office, said she “wanted to hit the ground running.” So, following her appointment in mid-March, she started meeting one-on-one with several of the village’s directors.

“We discussed anything that they wanted to talk about,” Sonenfeld said, including any “outstanding issues or concerns” they had.

“I also attended all of the departmental budget reviews, and met with our attorney for an update on all important legal issues,” said Sonenfeld, 59, who has three decades of experience in upper management for several financial institutions.

Sonenfeld has already met with Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan and Bergen County Administrator Ed Trawinski, and “agreed that the answer to stemming the tide of higher and higher property taxes is for each municipality to do things differently than we are doing them today and to engage the county where it makes sense,” the new manager said.

She said her official start last week “represented a continuation of what I have been doing,” but included fielding residents’ complaints and meeting with individual village staffers.

“I know the knowledge and understandings that I gain from these 250-plus initial interactions with the staff will serve us well going forward and will further open the communications lines within the organization on an ongoing basis,” Sonenfeld said.

Sonenfeld’s appointment wasn’t without controversy; two council members opposed her hiring last month, saying she lacked municipal government experience.

In Village Hall, however, the reception could not be warmer.

“I have been delighted,” Sonenfeld said. “The staff has been very forthcoming and candid in their communications with me. Clearly, there is a lot of work to do, but clearly, too, I am energized about working with the staff, the residents and the business owners to make Ridgewood an even more extraordinary place to live and work.”

Mayor Paul Aronsohn said last week that the village’s new manager has already managed to impress him.

“Roberta’s energy, enthusiasm and commitment seems endless,” Aronsohn said. “No question about it — she is going to be a great partner for the council and a great leader for our community.”