Tom Livermore, chosen by his colleagues on the Town Council on Dec. 13 to be mayor of Woodside for 2017, is retired from a 30-year career in business, including the business of making ice cream.
Mr. Livermore said that his priorities as mayor for the coming year include following the lead of his predecessor, Deborah Gordon, in trying to restitch the community fabric after the contentious election between Nancy Reyering and write-in candidate Chris Shaw for a seat on the Town Council in the fall of 2015.
Mr. Shaw won with 53 percent of the vote after a campaign colored by bitterness among the candidates' backers. "I want to help try to smooth over some of that," Mr. Livermore said.
The council elected Mr. Shaw as mayor pro tem, which puts him in line to be mayor in 2018. Mr. Shaw "came in with a big mandate," Mayor Livermore said, "and I felt that (electing him mayor pro tem) was important."
The mayor, a title that rotates among the council members, presides over council meetings and sets agendas. The mayor pro tem chairs council meetings in the mayor's absence.
As mayor, Mr. Livermore said he also wants to continue the effort to simplify the town's residential planning and building processes. "The community has been working on it for awhile," he said, "but it still needs (work) to make life easier for our residents. That's really one of the top priorities."
Mr. Livermore has a philosophy of governing. "I feel that government needs to be responsive, but it shouldn't be intrusive. It shouldn't be overbearing." he said. He favors less government because it means fewer rules.
The problem with creating rules, he said, is that a rule tends to beget additional rules to clarify the original rule. "You have to be really, really careful," he said. "It's a lot better to educate folks."
State Proposition 64 legalizing the use of recreational marijuana received 65 percent of the vote in Woodside, higher than county and state margins of victory."That tells you something right there, doesn't it," Mr. Livermore said, adding that a study session on the matter will be held "fairly quickly."
Mr. Livermore, who is 68, has a degree in art history from Lake Forest College near Chicago. After graduation, he tried his hand at photojournalism for the Boston Globe newspaper and ran an art gallery, also in Boston, where he met Ansel Adams and worked with notable Magnum photographers Gene Richards and Constantine Manos.
After work with a management consulting firm, Mr. Livermore took a position assisting a vice president at Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream in the East Bay. He spent a lot of time in warehouses, he said, including "giant freezers" kept at a temperature of 20 degrees below zero. He recalled a problem with lids popping off ice cream containers when shipped from the Bay Area to Denver, a mile above sea level where air pressure is lower.
"We figured out that if (we) simply turned all the ice cream cartons upside down when we stacked it on the pallets, the weight of the ice cream would keep the lids on," he said. "A fun place to work."
He retired from business as vice president of sales and marketing at FP International, a Fremont-based company that makes packaging, including bubble wrap and the inflated plastic bags that prevent movement of items inside boxes during shipment.
He and his wife have been residents of Woodside for 30 years, he said. Mr. Livermore came to the council in 2015 from the Architectural and Site Review Board, whose five members are charged with protecting the rural character of Woodside and ensuring that residential projects are consistent with town rules and guidelines.
Mr. Livermore serves on the boards of Hidden Villa in Los Alto Hills, the Children's Discovery Museum in San Jose, and the Horse Park in Woodside. The couple own two horses and their daughter competes in show jumping, he said.