Assemblyman Brian Rumpf Takes Full-Time Position With Ocean County Health Department

Feb 07, 2018
Assemblyman Brian Rumpf (R-NJ9th)

Brian E. Rumpf, assemblyman for the state’s 9th Legislative District, learned earlier this month that he had secured the provisional title of director of personnel and program development for the Ocean County Health Department. Rumpf, 53, said the position is a “good match” for him, particularly at this point in his life, as he continues to recover from a serious accident that suspended his career as a lawyer.

In 2011, Rumpf fell two stories from the roof of his home in Little Egg Harbor while trying to repair a skylight damaged during Hurricane Irene. He has so far undergone 10 total surgeries to address injuries sustained in the fall, including a shattered leg and multiple pulmonary embolisms.

“It was a life-altering event, to say the least,” he remarked.

Following the accident, his wife, Debra H. Rumpf, also an attorney, took over their Tuckerton-based law firm. The assemblyman said this left him free to pursue “something different” when, recently, he intended to return to work.

“In December it was made known to me that a person was retiring from the health department, and that a position would be available,” he explained. The application process, he pointed out, included several interviews, and, eventually, he will have to take and pass a test.

“I have to go through the same process as any civil servant,” he noted.

Rumpf said he has pledged to work at least 40 hours a week at the health department, while still having plenty of time for his legislative duties. For many of his 15 years as an assemblyman, he pointed out, he simultaneously ran his 30-year-old law practice, with no hitch.

Criticism, though, did follow the announcement of Rumpf’s selection for the health department job, which carries a salary of $139,000. As an assemblyman, he earns $49,000 a year.

A number of opinion pieces in local newspapers argued that Rumpf should choose just one of the positions. As a NJ.com commentary was headlined, “Patronage job recipient should resign from Assembly.”

The editorials claim a lack of qualifications for the health department role, which, as per the New Jersey Civil Service Commission (online at info.csc.state.nj.us/jobspec/01582.htm), includes duties such as: advising a principle executive officer on all areas of administrative activities; planning, organizing, directing and coordinating administrative functions and activities; and recommending new areas of possible agency or department involvement in program development.

Rumpf pointed out that he has 30 years’ experience representing civil agencies as an attorney. He also volunteered for nine years as a trustee at what was then Southern Ocean County Hospital (now Southern Ocean Medical Center), “which introduced me to the health and medical field,” he stated.

In addition to holding a bachelor’s degree – as the job requires – from The Catholic University of America, Rumpf also possesses a juris doctorate from Washington and Lee School of Law.

He believes it can be a benefit to have an individual serve both the Legislature and the health department, as there are many issues of high importance at the OCHD – such as the opioid crisis – that are also under discussion in legislative health committee hearings. “That’s why I really felt this would be a perfect fit, and that there’d be that balance,” said Rumpf.

The program development component of the job, he said, “is really exciting. It allows me to engage in the services and programs the department provides to the public,” including the two county animal shelters, the intoxicated driver resource center, numerous clinics pertaining to public health, enforcement of public health laws and many different grant programs.

“There are tremendous programs run through grants that offer assistance to women, infants and children,” among others, he added.

“There really is a lot that the department does.”

Of the backlash pertaining to holding the two positions, Rumpf commented, “I think I’m stuck with that stigma.” He did point out, though, that due to a law change in 2011, he can receive only one pension.

Rumpf said he is focusing on his legislative duties and his new position. “I enjoy coming to work,” he stated, “and I believe in the mission of the health department.”

Juliet Kaszas-Hoch

juliet@thesandpaper.net

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