Almanac

News - January 6, 2010

Atherton council picks Kathy McKeithen as mayor

by Andrea Gemmet

Kathy McKeithen will handle the gavel at Atherton City Council meetings in 2010. Ms. McKeithen, the vice mayor for 2009, was unanimously selected by her colleagues for the largely ceremonial position of mayor at the council's Dec. 16 meeting.

She served as the town's mayor once before, in 2004.

Mayor McKeithen said that in the coming months, the town will be addressing a "pretty severe" revenue decline. As mayor, she said she would try to make council meetings more efficient in order to encourage public participation. "We want a kinder, friendlier town," she said.

She exhorted the public to stay abreast of town affairs through official town sources — by reading the Athertonian newsletter and meeting minutes, and by coming to meetings.

"I want to aim for transparency," Ms. McKeithen said. "There are lots of rumors and very few facts. I encourage you to substantiate information."

Jim Dobbie won the post of vice mayor on a split vote, with Mayor McKeithen and Jerry Carlson supporting his candidacy. Charles Marsala, who was nominated by Elizabeth Lewis, lost the 3-2 vote.

The position of vice mayor usually goes to the council member who has been on the council the longest without having been selected. Mr. Marsala served as vice mayor in 2005 and as mayor in 2006. Mr. Dobbie, who was elected in June 2008, has not held either position.

Ms. Lewis, elected in November 2008, is the newest member of the council. She is the only other member of the town's governing body who has not served as either mayor or vice mayor.

Mr. Carlson, Atherton's mayor in 2009, said he was thankful that voters passed a renewal of Atherton's parcel tax in November. "It buys us some time to find a long-term sustainable financial structure for the town," he said.

Upcoming challenges facing Atherton include the California High Speed Rail project, and the need to make seismic improvements to the Town Council Chambers and to replace the police station facilities, he said.

He thanked his colleagues, town staff, his family and "the residents who kept me on my toes and keep me humble."

"It's been a privilege to serve as mayor in a town that has so many smart people," Mr. Carlson said.

Ms. Lewis praised Mr. Carlson's leadership for getting the parcel tax passed and for representing the town and the region on numerous boards and committees.

"He's raised the bar on the council for civility and team-building," she said. "I truly respect Jerry Carlson."

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