This article has been updated with comments from Alex Torpey and Trustee Sheena Collum. Look for The Village Green’s extensive interview with Torpey, which will be posted later today.
South Orange Village President Alex Torpey announced Friday he will not run for re-election when his four-year term is up next May.
In a post on his website, Torpey said his three years in office thus far have been a “once in a lifetime experience.” He continued, “The town that I grew up in, evangelize for and firmly believe in has given me the unbelievable fortune, opportunity and privilege to serve as the highest member of its government.”
Torpey was elected in May 2011 at the age of 23, succeeding Douglas Newman and becoming New Jersey’s youngest elected municipal leader at the time. Torpey beat his opponent Janine Bauer by just 13 votes.
In a phone interview, Torpey said he wanted to share the news with the public and the Board of Trustees to be upfront with people, and also so he could focus on continuing to work on the town’s key issues without the “cloud” of planning and mounting a re-election campaign.
His presidency has not been without controversy and critics, which Torpey alluded to in his message, noting “the persistence of some to attempt to shut out new voices and ideas, focused on trying to marginalize anyone with whom they disagree – a far too common problem in our public discourse in this country.”
“I was surprised to read the announcement this morning, so far in advance of the election next May,” said former trustee Michael Goldberg. “My disagreements with Mr. Torpey have been no secret, but I thank him for his service and wish him well in his future endeavors.”
Torpey said that while he will continue to be involved in South Orange after his term ends, he plans to focus on “my growing business and my evolving passions.” He continued, “I don’t want to simply continue exploring new ways to make governments work better, I want to find ways to open the entire governance process to people who previously have not had the ability to participate.”
Torpey is founder and managing partner of Veracity Media, a media consulting company. He has been an outspoken advocate of open government processes, and in 2012 founded Rethink Leadership, a nonpartisan initiative that seeks to engage young people in civic government.
He told The Village Green he would like to devote more time to managing his growing company (“That pays my bills.”), is considering going back to school for a second masters degree (he received his MPA in Emergency Management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice last year), and would like to take some time to travel.
“I am fully supportive of Alex’s personal decision not to seek reelection and admire how forthcoming he was by announcing this so early,” said Trustee Sheena Collum in a phone interview. “With that said, I don’t think today is any different than yesterday. The Board of Trustees will continue supporting each other on projects and initiatives where we have consensus and continue to debate and jar over topics where we don’t necessarily see eye to eye. When Alex shared with me his decision, we made a commitment to try and find a few projects we can work on together in the upcoming year together and I’m looking forward to that.”
Read Torpey’s full website post here.