Portola Valley names new town manager


Jeremy Dennis, a former district director for Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, and an advance planning manager for the city of Palo Alto, is set to become the new town manager in Portola Valley.

Mayor Maryann Derwin made the announcement after the council met in closed session on Wednesday, Jan. 27. Mr. Dennis has "character, vision and deep experience," Ms. Derwin said in a statement. "I know that our town founders would approve."

His first day on the job is set for Monday, March 7.

Mr. Dennis' base salary will be $190,000 a year, according to a contract provided by Town Attorney Leigh Prince. His compensation package includes health and retirement benefits along with yearly allowances of $3,000 for transportation and $5,000 for professional training.

Mr. Dennis, a resident of Redwood City, has a bachelors' degree in political science and U.S. history from the University of California at Davis, and a master's degree (in 2002) in regional and urban planning from the London School of Economics and Political Science, according to his online bio.

Debbie Pedro, the town's planning director, has been filling in as interim town manager since August 2015 and the departure of former town manager Nick Pegueros.

Contract details

Unlike the contract with Mr. Pegueros, Mr. Dennis' contract does not make distinctions between voluntary and involuntary resignations, nor does it include a clause on "communications upon manager's separation."

That clause had the effect of silencing the council and Town Hall staff about the details surrounding Mr. Pegueros' "involuntary resignation" in August 2015 after a little more than three years as town manager.

Legislative aide

For nearly five years, from December 2010 to July 2015, Mr. Dennis was Rich Gordon's top aide. In that role, Mr. Dennis says, his duties included developing legislative ideas for Mr. Gordon, and managing his affairs when he was not in the district, including coordinating events and meetings.

Mr. Dennis' responsibilities included managing Mr. Gordon's staff and interns, representing him in public, addressing constituents in meetings and groups, and regularly interacting with the media on significant issues, he says.

As the advance planning manager for the city of Palo Alto since leaving Mr. Gordon's office, Mr. Dennis was responsible for oversight of the city's comprehensive plan update, its programs to regulate commercial occupancy, its environmental review processes, and its housing matters, including block grants and below-market-rate housing.

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