By day, Sonya Sanders works for Sean Kilkenny. By night, Kilkenny works for Sanders.
That unique relationship began this week when Sanders starting working for Kilkenny, who is Montgomery County sheriff, as his office manager and policy director.
She also serves as president of Norristown Borough Council, which employs Kilkenny as municipal solicitor. The paid position is appointed annually by Norristown Council. Kilkenny charges $140 an hour for routine business and $165 for litigious matters, according to a news report last year. In his role as borough lawyer, he advises Council on matters of law and attends the governing body's monthly meetings.
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Kilkenny said Sanders was picked from “numerous” candidates for the position in the sheriff’s office after the job was publicly posted. She was one of three finalists and eventually chosen after interviews with Kilkenny, his chief deputy and a lieutenant, the sheriff said Friday afternoon. Her salary is $50,933 and she began Sept. 26.
Her role as policy director includes "writing grants," Kilkenny said.
He said the hiring was ruled “perfectly legal” by an outside law firm consulted by Norristown and himself. That law firm, Timoney-Knox of Fort Washington, did recommend stringent limits on Sanders’s oversight of Kilkenny as Norristown’s solicitor.
“She is not going to take part in any decisions about me or my law firm,” Kilkenny said. “We consulted with Timoney-Knox on it. Obviously, I didn’t want to give that opinion.”
He said his role as solicitor for Norristown predates Sanders’ election to Norristown Council by a decade.
“I was hired well before Sanders has been on Council,” he said, adding that he has been solicitor for 13 years.
Sanders was elected in 2013 and took office Jan. 1, 2014. Her four-year term runs through Dec. 31, 2017.
Her biography on Norristown’s municipal website said she was born and raised in the county seat. It also notes that she “works for a financial investment company where she has been employed for over 21 years.”
Messages left for Sanders were not returned Friday afternoon.