[UPDATE: Clarify State employment titles]

MIDDLETOWN, NJ – Middletown Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger, Ph.D., was recently appointed Director of the Office for Planning Advocacy, formerly the Office of Smart Growth.  He was hired in August as Director of Office of Smart Growth  while he was campaigning for re-election to his third term on the Township Committee.  The offices changed last month.

Middletown Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger, Ph.D.

Barbara Thorpe, 74, of the Lincroft section in Middletown says the mayor’s new position “is not anything the electorate was made aware of.  There was no mention of it in any newspapers.” Thorpe feels the election outcome might have been affected if the voters knew about the new job taken mid-campaign.

Mayor Scharfenberger, who holds a Ph.D. in archeology, is a part-time adjunct professor at Monmouth University and has earned his living as an archeologist; including stints with The Louis Berger Group, Richard Grubb and Associates, and GAI Consultants, Inc. during his tenure on the local governing body.


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He was approached by Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno in early August to head the new office, said Dr. Scharfenberger, because of his experience as an archeologist and his knowledge in land use issues and in dealing with the New Jersey Department of Transportation and Department of Environmental Protection.  He began work during the week of August 16, 2010, and manages a staff of 11.  Scharfenberger said his duties include “asking questions about policy, overseeing planners and GIS specialists. To help spur economic growth and revitalize the economy by, for example, reusing commercial properties” among many others.

He was hired in August as Director of the Office for Smart Growth under the Department of Community Affairs.

In October, the Office of Smart Growth was removed from the Dept. of Community Affairs and shuffled into the Department of State, run by Lt. Gov. Guadagno under the Business Action Center.

Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno at the opening of the Business Action Center, October 14, 2010.

Under the Department of State, the newly opened NJ Business Action Center’s Office for Planning Advocacy serves as the focal point for coordinating and advancing New Jersey’s planning strategies. Formerly the Office of Smart Growth, the Office for Planning Advocacy serves to stimulate new growth opportunities and enhances the one-stop shopping experience for business, according to the BAC website.

Scharfenberger earns a salary of $95,000 in his new position as Director of the Office for Planning Advocacy, and pays into his own 401K pension plan.  Dr. Scharfenberger has waived health benefits in his new state job.  He gets no health or pension benefits from his positions at Monmouth University or Middletown Township Committee, he said.  And he does not draw a stipend from the Township Committee, although he is entitled to one.

Asked why he did not announce his new job during his campaign, Scharfenberger said, “I wasn’t go to promote it to help my election, which I thought would be unfair.”  He said campaign literature was printed in April and May and did not contain information about his new job, but people knew about it.  “People around town were coming up to me and congratulating me.”

Scharfenberger said he would be required to recuse himself on any matter before the committee dealing with his state office so there would be no fiduciary conflict.

“Voters were not made aware of it in the months leading up to the election,” said Barbara Thorpe. ” The (election) outcome might have been different had they been.

According to the township website, which has not been updated, “Mayor Gerard P. Scharfenberger, Ph.D., has been serving on the Township Committee since 2005. Scharfenberger served as Mayor from 2007 through 2008 and Deputy Mayor in 2009 and 2006.

Scharfenberger has been a member of the Landmarks Commission since 1996, and currently serves on the Middletown Township Open Space Committee and the Municipal Alliance for the Prevention of Alcohol and Drug Abuse. He served as the Township Committee’s liaison to the Bayshore Dredge Committee in 2006 and on the Zoning Board of Adjustment in 2003 and 2004.  He also serves on the Monmouth County Greenhouse Gas Reduction Committee.  He was recently appointed to serve on Governor-elect Chris Christie’s transition team.

Scharfenberger, who has lived in Middletown for more than 15 years. He holds a master’s degree from Hunter College and received his doctorate in 2005 from the CUNY Graduate Center with a dual focus on historical archaeology and cultural landscape studies. He currently is a member of the adjunct faculty of Monmouth University in West Long Branch. Scharfenberger and his wife, Geraldine, have two children. Alannah graduated from Middletown High School South. Daniel currently attends Middletown public schools.”

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...