Almanac

News - December 22, 2010

Jim Dobbie takes reins on Atherton City Council

by Renee Batti

Jim Dobbie was the Atherton City Council's unanimous choice for mayor when members voted on Dec. 15 during a special meeting preceding the regular council meeting.

Mr. Dobbie, who replaces Kathy McKeithen, served as the town's vice mayor since last December. He is beginning a new four-year term on the council, having won his bid for re-election in November.

New council member Bill Widmer, who was the top vote-getter in the November election, was chosen vice mayor on a 3-2 vote. Mr. Widmer is filling the seat held by Charles Marsala for the last eight years.

Jerry Carlson and Elizabeth Lewis, who have often voted with Mr. Marsala to form a majority on the council, voted for Ms. Lewis to be vice mayor.

Mr. Marsala, who did not seek re-election, was honored with numerous proclamations and accolades from local legislators and Atherton residents during his last meeting. A councilman since 2002, he served as mayor in 2006, and was the first Atherton council member to serve in a leadership role with the California League of Cities.

During the special meeting, out-going mayor Kathy McKeithen presented Mr. Marsala with proclamations from Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, D-Menlo Park; state Assemblyman Ira Ruskin, and state Sen. Joe Simitian; and the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.

Mr. Marsala was lauded by town volunteers and other residents for his work on environmental projects and for his leadership role in the town center planning project.

Mr. Marsala's tenure on the council was marred earlier this year by news that he had sought a $500,000 personal loan from fellow resident Jon Buckheit, who at the time had begun the process of filing a lawsuit against the town. A subsequent review of the matter by City Attorney Wynne Furth concluded that Mr. Marsala had broken no law in asking for the loan.

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