ROXBURY, NJ – The manager of a western Pennsylvania township was chosen this week to replace retiring Roxbury Township Manager Christopher Raths.

The newcomer, John Shepherd, will take over the township reins in late May. Shepherd, currently the manager of North Huntingdon Township, Pa., was selected by the Roxbury Mayor and Council at its Tuesday meeting.

He will earn the same $160,000 salary as Raths, who has served as Roxbury’s manager for 16 years. 

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Shepherd, contacted Thursday, was at work and didn't feel comfortable discussing the Roxbury position while on the job.

Roxbury Councilman Robert DeFillippo said Shepherd stood out from the five finalist candidates for the manager job who were interviewed in private by he and his fellow council members. “He works for a community in Pennsylvania that has about 30,000 residents, about the same size as Roxbury,” DeFillippo said. “His plan is to move to Roxbury with his family”

DeFillippo, who is deputy mayor, said he believes Shepherd “has a good sense” of the Roxbury community and “felt like a good fit” to take over from Raths. “I was particularly impressed with his understanding of economic development and our desire to bring more business into Roxbury,” DeFillippo said. “He’s very impressed with our community so, all-in-all, I would say the council was pleased. We all reacted the same way to Mr. Shepherd.”

According to news reports, Shepherd was manager of North Huntingdon from 1998 to 2007 and returned to the post in 2009. Between 2007 and 2009, Shepherd had a stint in the private sector and managed two other Pennsylvania towns, according to his resumé, which says he has a master's degree in public administration from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

"My general management style is a collaborative approach ..." says Shepherd in the resumé. "My management style is an inviting one where staff feel very comfortable approaching me to discuss matters of concern. As such, staff are very willing to bring to my attention both positive and negative situations."

Shepherd, in the resumé, said his staff - if asked about his management style - "would say that I am a “team player” and lead by example. They would also say that I take a genuine interest in their respective departments and make time to discuss areas of concern with them. They would also say that I treat people fairly and am open and honest with staff and citizens. As such, there is a genuine trust that exists between the staff and myself."

Shepherd was one of the manager candidates suggested to Roxbury by Waters & Company, a firm hired by the township to conduct a nationwide search for a new manager

“It’s never going to be easy to fill Chris Raths’ shoes,” DeFillippo said. “He is a terrific manager and has done a terrific job over the last 16 years. But with Mr. Shepherd, we believe we’ve gotten somebody who has similar skills and a similar passion for the communities they manage.”

Raths said he is sure Shepherd will be a good manager. "I welcome him to the township and I'm sure he will do fine, " he said. As for himself, Raths said he is looking forward to doing some personal activities he's been wanting to do for years.

"I feel fine," he said. "I appreciate my time in Roxbury. I've had great councils and staff."