MANCHESTER – Former Ocean County Administrator Carl W. Block was hired by the Township Council to run the day-to-day operations of the town.
Block, 71, of Stafford Township, is the town’s former mayor. He was elected in 1983 and served as Stafford mayor for 26 years. He was the Ocean County deputy clerk prior to his election as county clerk in 2003. He was reelected in 2008. He was later appointed as the county administrator.
Block’s tenure as Ocean County administrator ended last year when the Board of Commissioners decided not to reappoint him. Michael Fiure was appointed to replace him.
Ocean County Republican Chairman George Gilmore voiced his opposition to Block’s removal according to an article by The Asbury Park Press. Arace was supported by Gilmore in both his 2021 and 2022 mayoral races against former Mayor Robert Hudak.
In Manchester, Block replaced Brandon Umba who was hired by the former Hudak administration in July of 2021. Umba, of Medford, is a Republican 9th District Assemblyman in Burlington County.
Block’s name was on the list approved during a January 23 Council meeting. Mayor Robert Arace’s appointment of him was passed in a two to zero vote as there were only three members of council present for that session.
Council Vice President James Vaccaro chaired the meeting in the absence of Council President Roxanne Conniff who was not present due to illness. He and new Councilman Hankins voted in the affirmative while Councilwoman Michele Zolezi abstained as she objected to the late notification of added items to the agenda during that meeting.
Resident Edward Lynch wasn’t happy with Block’s appointment. “I want to express my disappointment with the mayor appointing what appears to me to be a political payback for township administrator.”
Township Attorney Lauren Staiger, responding to a later comment from the public questioning the appointment, noted that it was in the mayor’s purview to appoint a new business administrator and vouched for Block’s ability to serve in that role.
Block was making over $206,000 a year when working for the County. The resolution that approved his contract for his new job has his salary set at $149,000. Umba’s salary was $156,000 annually.
According to the Township, Block started on February 1. He told The Manchester Times, “I look forward to getting involved and doing a good job. I’m two weeks in.”