News - November 17, 2010

Appointment near for Atherton interim city manager

by Renee Batti

The appointment of an interim city manager who would oversee operations in Atherton Town Hall for several months, until a permanent manager is found, may be made as early as Wednesday, Nov. 17, at the City Council meeting.

The council interviewed five candidates — among them the town's current "bridge" interim manager — for the interim city manager position when it met on Monday, Nov. 15. The special meeting began in open session, but the interviews were conducted in closed session after a public comment period.

In a departure from the typical hiring practices in most cities, the council released the names of the candidates last week. They live in California cities large and small.

In addition to Nadine Levin of San Mateo, who was appointed to oversee Town Hall operations until a longer-term interim manager is found, the candidates are John Danielson of Elk Grove, Martha Debry of San Jose, Eli Naffah of Crescent City, and Gene Rogers of Pebble Beach.

Among the duties the longer-term interim manager will be charged with is overseeing the process of recruiting a permanent city manager.

The council decided to appoint an interim town manager while launching a more intensive process to find a permanent manager soon after then-City Manager Jerry Gruber announced his resignation, effective Oct. 22. But before the Oct. 29 application deadline for the interim position closed, Assistant City Manager Eileen Wilkerson unexpectedly announced her retirement, giving only one week's notice, leaving the town without leadership.

The council scrambled to find someone to manage town operations until a longer-term interim manager could be found, and Ms. Levin, who retired earlier this year as Mountain View's assistant city manager, was hired and on the job by Oct. 22.

During the public comment period at the Nov. 15 meeting, resident Jon Buckheit challenged the council's earlier decision to put City Attorney Wynne Furth in charge of overseeing the hiring process. Ms. Furth, who did background checks on the candidates, will also have to reapply for her job soon, and that fact might influence her work in helping to choose a new interim manager, he said after the meeting.

The candidates

The town provided brief background information on Ms. Levin and the other four candidates, including the following.

Mr. Danielson is a former city manager of Elk Grove and Wildomar. He operates Danielson Associates in Sacramento.

Ms. Debry is public works director of Hillsborough, and previously served as that town's assistant city manager.

Mr. Naffah is a former city manager of Crescent City and Rio Dell. He now operates Naffah Consulting.

Mr. Rogers was city manager of Moreno Valley, and served for five years as Sunnyvale's employment development director. He now works with Local Government Management Consultants.

Go to for more information about the candidates.


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