Atherton council picks Kathy McKeithen as mayor


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."

We can't do it without you.
Support local journalism.


Like this comment
Posted by Hooray
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 4, 2010 at 9:17 pm

Kathy will do a great job as mayor (again). She's got a great background, many years of service to the town, and is not afraid to call it like she sees it. We need a strong mayor in Atherton since in my view Jerry Gruber has assumed he can operate with a much higher degree of autonomy than is appropriate (e.g., the Guerra appointment without a public or competitive process). I'm hoping Kathy can reign him in....he just has to be willing to listen to her directions as let's not forget the council members are the ones we're electing, not the town manager. The extremist view of the city manager form of government (i.e., the council can only hire and fire the city manager) has not served Atherton well, and has no doubt been promulgated by Gruber himself.

Like this comment
Posted by firefly
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 5, 2010 at 2:35 pm

The Council Manager form of government works just fine when the Council has the will to fire a city manager who either isn't willing or isn't capable of carrying out the direction of the Council

Like this comment
Posted by Resident since 1954
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 5, 2010 at 2:55 pm

I have seen many many city managers come and go since my coming to Atherton as a child in 1954. Jerry Gruber is one of the BEST yet. He has "transparency" in his job, is very fair minded and extremely capable. A few disgruntled whiners get all the publicity but in speaking to many of our citizens, (sadly they do not attend meetings or provide input: too busy, apathetic, or out of town) they as well as myself are extremely satisfied with Mr. Gruber's performance to date. He is very refreshing!

Like this comment
Posted by Ed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 5, 2010 at 3:43 pm

I am no longer interested what a "nice guy" Mr. Gruber is--I tnink he likely is a "nice guy" but so what does that have to do with a clear inability to manage a town effectively or more specifically in the case of Atherton to manage REFORM with the leadership skills required to clean up several years of embarrassment. The council hired a man who had never even done this job before and then gave him the mixed signals of a divided council and expected him to make their decision in selecting him look to be a wise choice for the town. I think the guy finally decided correctly that they were all nuts and just threw in his lot with the only cohesive body the the town had to offer which was the police dept.---the one rock no one has even looked under for far too long and the most in need of a fresh directive. A very rookie mistake and one that both he and the residents will come to regret.

Like this comment
Posted by Hooray
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 5, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Resident since 1954: I think you might have a different definition of "transparency" than I do. Normally when a major position such as police chief, etc. is filled, citizen interview committees are constituted, multiple candidates are considered, the city council is heavily consulted, etc. Gruber did precisely the opposite in a highly autocratic, unilateral way. I do admit, he has a friendly greeting and clammy handshake for anyone he approaches, but peel away the onion and you'll see what's really going on is not pretty.

Like this comment
Posted by Ed
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 5, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Dear 1954 resident--- Why would you expect your fellow "supporters" who "don't attend meetings"--"are apathetic",--"don't have an opinion to express",-- and are "out of town a lot", to do anything other than agree with whatever you posit--they are likely either humoring you, or worse--counting on your opinion for guidance since you at least claim to be paying attention to town affairs--if you really were keyed in at all you would not likely have "refreshing" at the top of your priority list for local governance. What will it ever cost in blood or treasure for you to expect more than an insincere handshake from both your leadership and your neighbors. This town has such a very rare and very precious potential to actually be admired for how it sets the bar--instead we are becoming one big joke---it is not the disgruntled who are dropping the ball here--or looking the other way.
So Gruber might be a nice guy---so what--but can he manage, set an example for his staff, garner anyones respect or lead this town forward--this is what the big pay check is for.

Like this comment
Posted by Godfather
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 6, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Most of the complainers are those who never attend any Town meetings, or prefer "not to get involved". Outside of their own personal views, they do not know what is going on.

As Far as the Mayor and the Council go, I think they act too much on their own alleged abilities secretly, and make stupid decisions that come back to haunt the Town. It happens year after year. With all the experienced people that live here, the council should encourage input from those in various professions before making decisions.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Be the first to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

First Sunnyvale, then Australia: Mountain View's Le Plonc plots expansion
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 2,367 views

Juggling Renewables
By Sherry Listgarten | 27 comments | 1,799 views

Premarital and Couples: Living as Roommates?
By Chandrama Anderson | 2 comments | 1,344 views

Homestead Faire at Hidden Villa 4/27
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 520 views

A trial run
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 507 views


The Almanac Readers' Choice ballot is here

It's time to decide what local business is worthy of the title "The Almanac Readers' Choice" — and you get to decide! Cast your ballot online. Voting ends May 27th. Stay tuned for the results in the July 17th issue of The Almanac.