ROXBURY, NJ – Roxbury’s Memorial Day Parade was canceled on Monday, but Wednesday brought a parade of a different kind: Dozens of people filed through town hall to say goodbye to retiring township manager Christopher Raths and hello to John Shepherd, his replacement.
It was a who’s who of Roxbury that streamed into the Roxbury Mayor and Council meeting room. There they found Raths and Shepherd and a table of treats that included a goodbye cake for another departing Roxbury official - Raths’ executive assistant Lucinda Bryant.
Although Raths is looking forward to his post-retirement plan – hiking the Appalachian Trail – he said he was feeling “mixed emotion” about his last day after 16 years at the helm. Earlier in the day, he sent an email to a long list of people in which he said it had been an “honor” to work with them.
“While I am certain that with a number of you there were times that we did not agree; at no time did I not respect you and your position,” Raths wrote. “We worked over the years to improve the quality of the lives of our residents, citizens or clients. I know I could not have done as well in Roxbury without your support and assistance.”
Raths has said he plans to continue living in Roxbury.
Shepherd actually started working May 30. He comes to Roxbury from Pennsylvania, where he left a position as manager of North Huntingdon Township, Pa. Shepherd was chosen by the Roxbury Mayor and Council last month and is earning the same $160,000 salary paid to Raths.
Shepherd, 50, is married and has two daughters. He has a master’s degree in public administration, about 27 years of government experience and about 20 years as a manager.
“Roxbury appealed to me because of the location as well as it being similar to North Huntingdon Township,” Shepherd said. “Many of Roxbury's areas of service delivery are very similar to North Huntingdon's. The community appears very stable.”
Shepherd said another reason he accepted the position was the financial stability of Roxbury and the fact that most properties “are well-maintained and valuable.” He also said the school system is good and “there is a great community base with room to grow.”