Rethinking with Alex Torpey is a non-commercial, totally free, nonpartisan, and thoughtfully critical discussion series and virtual forum for people to explore ways to better ourselves, our community, and our republic.
Vision: A more informed, strategic, and capable American civic ecosystem that not only addresses the needs of those living in the United States in a more trusted and effective fashion, but which once again stands up American government as a global model for prosperity, liberty, equity, and innovation.
Mission: To provide those who work in public institutions or whose work addresses community and public issues, access to a nonpartisan, thoughtful, and critical place to question everything and find practical systemic solutions to some of our most pressing needs.
Alex Torpey is a New Jersey raised and based public servant, entrepreneur, educator, and consultant. Most recently, Alex was the Business Administrator for the City of Lambertville, Hunterdon County. Formerly he was the Borough Administrator in Leonia, Bergen County.
Alex is currently an independent governance and management consultant. Currently, he is working with Sustainable Jersey as the consulting Program Manager for the Public Information and Engagement Program, providing technical assistance to municipalities to help them improve their communications and technology programs.
Previously, he was the founder and managing partner of Veracity Media, and was one of the youngest mayors in the United States when he was elected to the position of Village President (Mayor) in his hometown of South Orange in 2011 at age 23 (by 12 votes!). Alex earned his Master of Public Administration in Emergency Management from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and his BA in the Political Science of American Law from Hampshire College.
As a municipal administrator, Alex’s work has largely focused on identifying acute and systemic mechanisms for local tax savings, creating more comprehensive and publicly transparent budgeting processes, demanding strict compliance for ethics and data privacy and security, and implementing evidence-based and technology supported programs that meet specific community needs.
In both Leonia and Lambertville, Alex saved local taxpayers considerably more than his compensation. Alex brought in new grant funds from county, state, federal and nonprofit sources, totaling more $1m in Leonia (~$10m annual budget) and over $100,000 in Lambertville (~$5m annual budget). Alex cut hundreds of thousands of frivolous and inefficient spending on technology and professional service contracts in both communities, including for example, confronting deficient professional service providers, and example addressing the City of Lambertville’s runaway debt issue by reducing new debt authorized by 97% in his first year, as well as creating a plan to reduce the taxpayer impact of the City’s rising debt over the next six years. (City’s debt service was 24% of operating budget in 2019, projected to grow to 38% by 2024 at prior spending levels). In both communities, Alex identified millions in taxpayer savings over a six-year period by implementing a transparent, new six-year budgeting process that including holistic planning around facilities, infrastructure, affordable housing obligations, redevelopment, staffing levels, technology, commercial development, rateables, sustainability, and historic preservation.
As part of this new foray into helping municipalities implement long-term financial planning process that will help them better meet their community’s goals, Alex built on on his award winning transparency projects as Mayor in South Orange by creating processes that were exceedingly transparent. He experimented with new ways through data, text, graphic, and video content to communicate complex financial information in more simply formats for elected officials and communities. He implemented public budget presentations and discussions – all aimed to help support more informed local decision making. View an example from Leonia here, and examples from Lambertville here and here.
In both communities, Alex quickly brought the organizations to better digital records compliance, implementing enterprise-level data archiving, backup, redundancy and security solutions that would help ensure proper preservation of records, and which helps the Municipal Clerk ensure a more strict compliance with the New Jersey Open Public Records Act. Alex implemented and advocated for internal policies to ensure strict compliance among local elected officials with the Open Public Meetings Act, even when it at times produced pushback from the officials themselves. He also provided the public with a unique privacy disclaimer on all electronic communication with officials (South Orange’s was the first in the state). Additionally, Alex hired a Qualified Purchasing Agent (QPA) in both communities to assist in implementing more strict budget control and anti-pay-to-play policies that ensured better compliance with state purchasing laws and created more transparent contract award processes in the future.
Additionally, Alex sought to implement various programs and policies that helped meet publicly identified community needs. This covers a wide range of programmatic area, such as:
As a mayor, Alex lead his municipality through four years of financial stabilization, new technology adoption, smart redevelopment (including affordable housing and sustainable elements), improvements to public safety and emergency management services, and a significant change in how the public and community were engaged with through numerous transparency and communications programs. You can read more about progress made in South Orange here.
Alex’s consulting areas of expertise include technology, civic engagement, communications, organizational development, strategic planning, management, policy/program evaluation, and emergency/risk management. Alex previously was the consulting Program Director for Run for America, where he created the new nonpartisan civic leadership program Pathways, and has consulted with organizations such as Living Cities, John Jay College Foundation, and Sustainable Jersey. Previously, Alex was a James Madison Fellow at the Millennial Action Project, on the Advisory Board of the New Jersey New Leaders Council and a member of Sustainable Jersey’s Civic Innovation and Community Engagement Task Force.
Alex is an avid outdoorsman, and enjoys taking road trips on his motorcycle, listening to or (learning how to) making music, reading or discussing philosophy, visiting and learning about new places, and fishing and camping around New Jersey and the northeast. You can find his photography on Instagram or read more about Alex here. Alex currently lives in Delaware Township, in Hunterdon County. Previously within New Jersey, he has lived in Essex, Hudson, Monmouth, and Mercer Counties, as well in Brooklyn, upstate New York, and briefly, East Africa.