Atherton: No agreement on city manager

Council unable to choose from three top candidates; manager search extended

First there were 58, then there were seven. But when the Atherton City Council sat down to consider the qualifications of the top three city manager candidates chosen from the pool, they couldn't agree.

Although the original plan was to have a new manager in place by now, Mayor Bill Widmer announced on July 12, after several closed session meetings with his council colleagues, that "we will not make a decision just because the calendar says it is time."

The town has extended the timeline for the search, and is looking at several additional candidates, Mr. Widmer said. The candidates are "new ones that have come to light since we did our original recruitment," he told the Almanac.

"It is our hope that we fill this position sooner rather than later," he said, adding, "We need to get a good fit, and we need to have the support" of at least most of the council's five members.

Meanwhile, City Clerk Theresa Della Santa will continue serving as interim town manager.

"Theresa is doing a great job in running the town and this has provided us the flexibility to find the right candidate," the mayor said in a written announcement. "That being said, it is a high priority task for all of us to get this leadership position filled."

Before Ms. DellaSanta stepped in, the position was last held, also on an interim basis, by John Danielson, whose tenure ended in mid-January. Mayor Widmer, Councilwoman Kathy McKeithen, and Ms. DellaSanta served on an ad-hoc committee overseeing the search for candidates by Bob Murray & Associates.

The search firm narrowed the field of candidates to seven, and the ad-hoc committee chose three, who were interviewed by the full council.

"After these meetings, the full council was not in agreement that any candidate was acceptable," Mr. Widmer said in his written announcement. "While all candidates were well experienced, the council is focused on fit and knowledge of our community."


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Posted by The other 55
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 16, 2012 at 6:13 am

Maybe Carlson and Lewis would have approved one of the other 55 candidates that Widmer and McKeithen did not approve?

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Posted by EEOC
a resident of another community
on Jul 16, 2012 at 7:54 am

During the Feb meeting, a Council member said he sought city manager who is a "younger guy". He wanted someone early in their career who could make a name for themself in Atherton.

Last time I checked, you can't hire someone based on their age and sex.

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Posted by disaster again
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 16, 2012 at 8:29 am

The mere fact that the Council is having trouble reflects the divisions within the Council. The track record of this group is not good for picking a good candidate and a great deal of money and time goes into the search process with a pot luck situation if the choice will work out. Then a new manager has to learn about the town, employees, residents, contractors and most importantly the politics. That would probably take the better part of a year. Given the multitude of problems and issues and interim employees the potential for disaster is again in the making.The momentum gained with John Danielson would be lost.
I note with pleasure Mayor Widmer's remark that Theresa is doing a great job and it appears from watching the videos of the Council meetings she has gained the respect of town employees and Council members as well. As she mentioned in her report although short-staffed she has everyone from various departments pitching in doing various jobs to help. I think the search for a new manager needs to go no further as they have an excellent choice in front of them. Woodside recently went through an extensive search process and ended up promoting a known quantity from within. Lots to be said for experience and an institutional memory.
Basically everyone loves Theresa and is willing to help and cooperate with here. She has already proven herself ready.

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