‘Now everybody can move forward’: Upper Darby CAO steps down

A view of the Upper Darby Township building

A view of the Upper Darby Township building in Delaware County. (Upper Darby Council/Facebook)

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Upper Darby Chief Administrative Officer Vincent Rongione is stepping down from his role effective immediately.

Mayor Barbarann Keffer has selected Alison Dobbins and Rita LaRue to manage her administration in Rongione’s place. Keffer announced the leadership change Wednesday afternoon, thanking Ronione for his service to Pennsylvania’s sixth largest municipality.

Keffer credited Rongione for pushing Upper Darby towards establishing its first community center, diversifying the mayor’s administration, and modernizing the township, among other accomplishments.

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“I’m going to miss him. He was awesome. He really was a big help. He’s very creative. He’s high energy, very effective. He’s been really good and he’s dedicated to the people of Upper Darby,” Keffer said.

Rongione said he was “thrilled to have the opportunity to serve.”

“But after three long, hard [years] — going through a global pandemic and civil unrest and a generational political transition, it was just time to say, you know what? I’m going to hand the baton off and get some fresh legs here to carry it forward. And I’m going to focus on my family while I have the time,” Rongione said.

Back in February 2022, Rongione found himself at the center of controversy in Upper Darby following an internal feud regarding whether $6 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds were misallocated.

A bipartisan faction of the township council — three Democrats and three Republicans — placed most of the blame on Rongione’s shoulders, while five Democrats on council categorized the probe as a faux scandal and expressed their support for Rongione. All of the infighting left roughly $35 million in ARPA funds unspent as the situation turned hostile and litigious.

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The township council voted 6-5 to remove Rongione from his position in June and even requested the police to prevent him from working in the township administration building.

He, in turn, sued the township in July, putting the vote to oust him in legal limbo. Since then, his role in township government has been greatly diminished after three years in his position.

Despite the turbulent year, Rongione said the dispute did not play a role in his exit.

“I do think it was important for the residents of Upper Darby and for myself to be able to go on my own terms. We put in a lot of great work over the last three years. I wish everybody nothing but the best and hopefully now everybody can move forward,” Rongione said.

When asked whether she sees an ending to the ARPA controversy in Upper Darby following Rongione’s departure, Keffer was noncommittal.

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