New mayors in Portola Valley, Woodside


Town clerks in Portola Valley and Woodside swore in new and returning officials this week.

In Portola Valley, Jeff Aalfs joined and Ann Wengert rejoined the Town Council on Wednesday, Dec. 14. as Councilman Steve Toben departed after two four-year terms. The council saved about $10,000 -- the cost of an election -- by appointing Mr. Aalfs and Ms. Wengert since they were the only two candidates in an election of two open seats.

The mayor until December 2012 is Maryann Moise Derwin, who was elected by unanimous vote after the swearing-in ceremony, with Councilman John Richards elected as vice mayor.

In Woodside, which did hold an election, the new member of the council is Tom Shanahan, who represents District 3 and who was sworn in Tuesday, Dec. 13, along with returning councilmen Dave Burow, Peter Mason and Ron Romines.

The council then unanimously elected Councilman Dave Tanner as mayor and Councilwoman Anne Kasten as mayor pro tempore.

Councilwoman Sue Boynton left the Woodside chambers with bouquets and proclamations in hand after three terms on the council. Ms. Boynton, an equestrian and advocate for equestrians in the community, received as a parting gift a decorative metal silhouette of a horse's head for her wall.

Mr. Toben, whose passions include environmental activism, was given a self-sustaining ecosystem sealed in a 6 1/2-diameter glass sphere. The sphere contains sea water, microorganisms and vegetation in a combination that balances the carbon dioxide and oxygen inside, according to the website

Mr. Aalfs is not inexperienced in town government, having been appointed by the council to the Architectural & Site Control Commission (ASCC) in December 2008. He is self-employed as a residential energy consultant, helping homeowners and home designers comply with government energy codes and improve efficiency in new and existing homes.

Mr. Aalfs has a bachelor's degree in molecular biology from the University of California at Los Angeles and a doctorate in genetics from Harvard University. He did post-doctoral work at the medical school at Tufts University and also worked in the pharmaceutical industry.

Mr. Shanahan is the head of West Coast investment banking at Needham Asset Management, LLC, on Sand Hill Road and is a general partner. He was a chief financial officer at several Silicon Valley firms and a co-founder of Agile Software Corp.

Mr. Shanahan's degrees are from Stanford University and the Harvard University business school, where he was a Baker Scholar. He also served as an officer in the First Infantry Division in Vietnam, according to his bio.

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