“Councilman Yitzchok Ullman resigned Monday night from the Town Board and was immediately named the town receiver of taxesto succeed the retiring tax collector.
Ullman, a board member for a decade who served as acting supervisor for six months in 2017, will succeed 88-year-old Nathan Oberman, who submitted his retirement papers on Friday, according to town officials. Oberman’s retirement takes effect Tuesday after 21 years on the job.
Oberman, a former Ramapo Democratic Party chairman named in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission legal action, had been one of several holdovers not reappointed by the Town Board. His health and personal issues led him to retire, officials said. The SEC case is continuing.
Town Supervisor Michael Specht said Monday that he supported Ullman for the position and anticipates the Town Board will appoint him. Oberman will stay a few months through the tax-collection season and the transition, officials said.
” Ullman is a good choice, Specht said. “He will be able to work efficiently and honestly. He will used the same energy he used to reform the town.”
Specht referred to Ullman pushing for reforms – which are still ongoing – as acting supervisor after Christopher St. Lawrence’s federal fraud convictions in May forced him out of office.
Specht’s chief of staff, Mona Montal, said Oberman’s retirement wasn’t expected. Oberman had faced recent health issues and family concerns, but will remain on board for a few months to close the tax collection and help during the transition, she said.
Voting to appoint Ullman were Specht, and board members Brendel Logan-Charles, David Wanounou and Michael Rossman.
William Weber, who challenged Specht for supervisor last year, said he was pleased Oberman was leaving the government, citing the SEC legal action against Oberman, former Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence and Town Attorney Michael Klein, who remains a holdover appointee.
“His role in the SEC enforcement action tainted him and was a move that was sorely needed,” Weber said.
He called Ullman’s resignation and appointment “an interesting turn of events,” saying he hopes Specht and the board consider qualified candidates before filling the Town Board vacancy.
Weber said the appointee should be someone who has been fighting for reforming town government, has the background to deal with the town’s complex issues and can help unify a fractured electorate.
“There are many people that I can think of that have those qualities and I hope those persons are given fair consideration by the supervisor and the board,” Weber said, adding he’d be interested, “But I don’t think that is likely to happen.”
Shani Bechhofer, a candidate for Town Board last year, was not pleased with Ullman’s resignation and the process of replacing Oberman.
“Whether or not I was pleased by that choice, I know that the voters of Ramapo assumed the good faith intention of each person running for office to actually serve,” Bechhofer said. “No voter expects to elect someone into office who will wait less than one month into his term to give away his seat to someone else.
Bechhofer also said Specht should be leading a search for a qualified person to be receiver of taxes.
“It stretches credulity to believe that the retirement of Mr. Oberman was unanticipated,” Bechhofer said. “He is 88 years old and awaiting the terms of his impending settlement with the SEC… Taxpayer dollars are supposed to be used to hire the most talented professionals available, not to install political allies in plum positions.”
Montal, the Democratic chairwoman, said people have expressed interest in being appointed to succeed Ullman.
“The party is accepting and receiving names of a variety of individuals,” she said. “The party will make a recommendation to the Town Board.”
Ullman’s successor will not be named for a few months, she predicted. The person chosen will likely have to run for the unexpired four-year term in November.
Montal said the town will look for a well-balanced person who can represent all communities in town. She noted that Ullman being the board’s lone Hasidic Jew can come into play with any recommendation. The town’s western section is not represented on the board, as well.
“We’re looking for a good person who can serve the entire town,” Montal said. “We will keep in mind one section of the community but that will not be the sole criteria.”
Ullman’s departure leaves Specht with one veteran member on the all-Democrat Town Board, Brendel Logan-Charles. Specht won election to a first term in November after 20 years as an assistant town attorney.
As acting supervisor, Ullman pushed for reforms and more transparency following St. Lawrence’s ouster after nearly 17 years. St. Lawrence was convicted of 20 counts of securities and wire fraud and conspiracy resulting from the fraudulent bond financing of the town’s baseball stadium and other infrastructure projects.”
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