New Livingston Mayor Rudy Fernandez broke a longstanding tradition on Tuesday by selecting a member of the minority party to serve as his deputy.
In what could be considered a surprise development, Michael Rieber, a Republican elected to the council in 2010, became Deputy Mayor. Rieber is now expected to ascend to the position of Mayor in 2014.
"When you go to Washington D.C. or you go to Trenton, your interests are going to be different than a guy in a different county or a different state," Rieber said after the meeting. "Here, our interests are the same, which is making our town the best it can be. So why do you need to be a Republican or Democrat to do that."
Rieber said he was informed of Fernandez' decision on Monday. The decision was kept quiet until announced at the meeting.
"This was something (the council) discussed and we thought it would be best for the community," Fernandez said after the meeting. "Really, that's what it came down to. It came down to what was best for Livingston and what was best for us moving forward."
Fernandez said that while Rieber may be a Republican and himself a Democrat, they generally have agreed on the majority of decisions made by the Township Council the past two years.
"Quite frankly, (Michael and I) have rarely disagreed," said Fernandez. "If you go back and look at our voting for the past two years, we've had over 400 votes and I think there was only one vote we were different on. We work through all of our differences before we get out there. While we may have different thoughts and different opinions, they're not that diverse and we're always able to reach an agreement."