Atherton council wants to appoint Carlson's replacement | June 26, 2013 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - June 26, 2013

Atherton council wants to appoint Carlson's replacement

• Application deadline July 8 for residents seeking appointment to serve out council term.

by Renee Batti

Atherton residents who want to serve their community at a high level of involvement — and who have a solid store of tolerance for meeting attendance — might consider applying for a short term on the City Council to see if the job suits them. Applications are being taken for residents interested in serving out the term of Councilman Jerry Carlson, who is resigning his position on July 1.

The four remaining council members are hoping to appoint a person to the seat rather than wait until the November election to have a full council. Mr. Carlson's term ends in December 2014.

The application deadline is July 8 at 5 p.m.

The council decided at its June 19 meeting to interview candidates on Thursday, July 11, beginning at 5:30 p.m. The council could appoint a person that night, or, if the four members can't agree on a candidate, could call for an election on Nov. 5.

If an election is held, the candidate filing period would open on July15 and end on Aug. 9.

New vice mayor

The council on June 19 also appointed Cary Wiest vice mayor. Mr. Carlson was elected to that position in December, but resigned the post effective 6 p.m. June 19, just before the council meeting.

Mr. Wiest was elected to the council last November, supported along with Mayor Elizabeth Lewis by the Atherton Police Officers' Association during a campaign marked by warnings from the police union that police services would be in jeopardy should residents support the wrong candidates. Mr. Wiest had run unsuccessfully for a council seat in 2010, soon after moving to Atherton.

Council members Jim Dobbie and Bill Widmer objected to the appointment of a vice mayor that night, and urged the council to postpone the decision. "It is not appropriate for council member Carlson to be voting on the future mayor when (Mr. Carlson) is leaving," Mr. Dobbie said.

Mr. Widmer said he felt so strongly that the appointment, with Mr. Carlson voting, would be inappropriate that he would refuse to vote if the council acted that night.

Disagreeing with his colleagues, Mr. Carlson said the council needed to have a vice mayor in place in case the mayor is unable for any reason to perform her duties after Mr. Carlson has stepped down. Such a situation would leave the council with three members only, and with none designated to preside over a council session.

Mr. Carlson, Mr. Wiest and Mayor Lewis pushed ahead; all three cast votes for Mr. Wiest. Mr. Dobbie voted no, and Mr. Widmer abstained.

There is no rule requiring the council to appoint a vice mayor to the mayoral post the following year, but that has been the traditional progression into the office. The tradition is likely to be tested in December, however, given the unusual circumstances for Mr. Wiest's appointment and the dissension of two council members.

To apply for council

Residents interested in applying for the council seat should contact City Clerk Theresa DellaSanta at 752-0529 or Application forms are available online at www. under the "Announcement" heading on the home page.


Posted by Tea Leaves, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 25, 2013 at 11:25 pm

The council members will likely have three top-notch candidates to choose from for this appointment process.

Kathy McKeithen, former three-term council member and two-term mayor, tops the list of experience. She may not be willing to rejoin the council so soon after retiring, but this would be the top choice of many.

Government accountability advocate Peter Carpenter is obviously a highly qualified candidate who brings vast public and private sector experience, as well as fiscal responsibility, to the table. He has been known to step onto public boards in a pinch when vacancies have existed, such as the fire board. Having endorsed Elizabeth Lewis and Cary Wiest, it is hard to imagine they would not vote for his approval, yet the APOA probably does not want Peter Carpenter as he would hold their feet to the fire in contract negotiations.

Lieutenant John Ruggeiro may throw his hat into the ring. A longtime Atherton resident, commission member, and former top-level member of San Francisco police department command staff, he would bring seasoned police experience to the contentious APOA contract negotiations, taking well over 50% of Atherton's budget.

These three candidates lead the pack, and Atherton would do well with any of them.

Posted by Elections have consequences, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 26, 2013 at 9:31 am

Peter Carpenter and some of the other posters here must have been living in a different town than Atherton during last November's election and are confusing results from another election with Atherton's.

Educated consumers often choose to get higher quality for higher prices. That's why some people shop at Macy's, and others choose Neiman Marcus.

Last November, Atherton's voters overwhelmingly decided that safety, response time, personal service, and higher quality officers all outweigh costs in terms of the Atherton police department. Atherton's voters are willing to pay more to get more.

They decided that shortsightedly looking at costs is inappropriate. They decided that cost is not an issue, and cannot be an issue, in terms of how the Atherton police department is funded.

Peter Carpenter doesn't get this. I will repeat this post on the other item suggesting he should be an interim council member since this confusion makes him totally unsuitable for that position.

Posted by registered user, Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 26, 2013 at 9:55 am

None of the issues claimed by the above anonymous poster ( perhaps an Atherton police officer?) were in last November's ballot. Those of us with the right to vote voted for individuals to serve as OUR council members.

Facts are important - as are identities.