July 14, 2024
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Teaneck Celebrates Outgoing Township Manager Dean Kazinci

Bergen County Commissioner Tracy Zur presents Kazinci with a proclamation from the county.

Dean Kazinci’s announcement this spring that he would be retiring as township manager marked the conclusion of an exceptional 44-year run of public service to the Township of Teaneck.

Kazinci is extraordinarily well regarded, particularly by the township’s leaders and public servants who have worked most closely with him, especially over the past six years during his appointment as township manager. At his final council meeting this past Tuesday evening, Kazinci delivered an eloquent litany of appreciation, starting with his parents and family, and extending to the hundreds of colleagues and associates he’s worked with over his 44 years of public service to Teaneck, at the local, county and state level as well as with Congressman Josh Gottheimer. His comments followed each council member’s speech, the current and both deputy mayors, and a long line of dignitaries including two former mayors, members of the Bergen County council and state government.

Deputy Mayor Eli Y. Katz with Teaneck Officer Kazinci in 1993.

Kazinci, a lifelong resident of Teaneck, began his career with the Teaneck Department of Recreation while in high school, and joined the Teaneck Police Department in 1984. He served as director of human resources from 2010 to 2018, and has served since then as township manager. Doug Ruccione, the township clerk, noted that Kazinci’s years of service accounted for one fourth of Teaneck’s total history as a municipality.

Teaneck Mayor Michael Pagan lauded Kazinci. “Dean is the true epitome of what a public servant is supposed to be. He is kind, compassionate, caring and smart, and has dedicated more than 40 years of his career to Teaneck as a police officer and as our township manager. Dean is the ‘get it done’ person that everyone wants on their team, and we are going to miss him. But we are also so very happy for him and wish him the very best of luck in his retirement and in this next chapter of his life.”

Kazinci attends the street naming for Rabbi Adler last year.

Deputy Mayor Danielle Gee, one of the newer members of the council, summed up Kazinci as “unbelievably ‘there’ for Teaneck.”

Deputy Mayor Eli Y. Katz added his sentiments. “I have known Dean Kazinci for over 30 years, and I consider him a true friend. He was dedicated to the residents of Teaneck, sincere, honorable and passionate in the position. His 24/7 commitment to Teaneck, his ‘no nonsense’ personality and ‘get it done’ attitude have benefited every resident and employee of Teaneck and their quality of life. We are fortunate to [have had] Dean’s 40-year service to Teaneck… he will be missed!”

Fire Chief Joseph Berchtold shared, “Manager Kazinci showed unequivocal dedication to both the employees of the Township Of Teaneck and all the residents, answering calls 24/7, 365 days a year. No matter when or what type of weather, he would not only come out during the emergency to see his employees, but also to ensure that the residents affected by the emergency were taken care of.”

Rabbi Daniel Fridman delivered words of appreciation and admiration for Kazinci as a close friend and manager.

Doug Ruccione, Teaneck’s township clerk, couldn’t say enough nice things about Kazinci’s influence on him. “Dean has been a real mentor, leader and personal friend. I have been with the township for six years, shortly after being served alcohol legally for the first time at the age of 23. Getting the organization and its team members to take me seriously out of the gate was a bit of a struggle. If not for Dean’s support, simply getting to the table may have been more difficult. He believed in me and has taken a chance on many other young leaders. He knows how to think down the line.”

Ruccione shared the following story which underscores Kazinci’s drive and determination to get urgent things done, no matter what the challenges:

“The COVID Vaccine Point of Distribution (POD) Center at the Rodda Community Center opened shortly after the country shut down. When, across the country and [in] New Jersey, folks were struggling to get the vaccine our administration, with the help of Holy Name Hospital, was able to establish an elaborate vaccine center to provide the vaccine to residents who wanted it.

“This level of service and focused attention is not common in local government or nationally. But COVID required outside the box thinking. Dean is always so ready to think outside the box to tackle an issue, which can be difficult for leaders in local government who rely heavily on ‘proven methods.’ If more local leaders were courageous, because it requires courage to think outside the box and address challenges head on, we may see more local governments do great things for our communities!”

Standing ovation headed by New Jersey State Senator Gordon Johnson and Bergen County Commissioner Tracy Zur.

Teaneck Council Member and Jewish Link Co-Publisher Mark “Mendy” Schwartz shared his thoughts on the impact of Kazinci’s retirement: “I spend my Sundays catching up on resident requests for help, etc. I’m sitting at my desk right now wondering how this will get done once Dean leaves. Having worked with several managers and many town officials, Dean was a yes man. ‘Let’s tell the resident we can get it done and then figure out how.’ To say he will be missed is an understatement.”

Council member Karen Orgen added some light humor by presenting Kazinci with some of his favorite “healthy” candy snacks, and later with a gift of a beautiful watch from the entire council. Ironically, Kazinci noted in response that the watch he was wearing had stopped at 6:31 p.m. that evening, just as the closed council session began!

Teaneck Council member Hilary Goldberg added her thoughts. “Teaneck has been blessed to be served for four decades by outgoing Township Manager Dean Kazinci. There is not a single Teaneck resident who Dean has not impacted. Dean served through some of our most challenging moments, including the sudden loss of Mayor Lizette Parker, September 11, 2001, and the COVID pandemic, and has always done so with a heart true to Teaneck. Dean has always been available, prioritized our residents and staff, and ensured Teaneck is well run. The entire Teaneck community, all 41,500 of us, are deeply grateful for Dean’s service.

“We are comforted by the knowledge that Dean will continue to support Teaneck in a consulting role,” she concluded, “ensuring a smooth transition for our new manager, Jaclyn Hashmat. Even in his retirement, Dean’s commitment to Teaneck remains unwavering, a testament to his dedication and love for our community.”

Former Mayor Dr. James Dunleavy said Teaneck is a better place thanks to the Kazinci family and their total of eight decades of service to the community.

Kazinci received numerous certificates of proclamation in appreciation of his service and dedication, including one from Bergen County Executive James Tedesco and another by State Senator Gordon Johnson. Bergen County Commissioner Tracy Zur also delivered a message of appreciation and well wishes. Congressman Josh Gottheimer was unable to attend, but his assistant presented Kazinci with an encased American flag that had previously flown in Washington DC.

Councilwoman Denise Belcher shared that when she first joined the council, Kazinci personally introduced her to everyone in the township government, calling him a “servant leader.”

Moshe Kinderlehrer, co-publisher of The Jewish Link, added his comments as well, characterizing Kazinci as someone who always put the town and its residents first. “Dean has worked incredibly hard for the town of Teaneck, and we at The Jewish Link have enjoyed a special and close relationship with him. We will miss him.”

Kazinci, in his comments, extended a huge tip-of-the-hat to Deputy Township Manager Tom Rowe. “I may be Batman, but he’s Robin and we are certainly a team. I couldn’t do what I do without the terrific department heads and the wonderful staff we have here in Teaneck.

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