News

Cary Wiest is Atherton's new mayor

Vice Mayor is Bill Widmer

Veteran council member Cary Wiest will serve his second term as Atherton's mayor for the coming year, with Bill Widmer serving as vice mayor. Both were chosen for their new roles by their fellow council members on Dec. 20.

Mr. Wiest, 53, was first elected in 2012. He was previously named mayor in late 2013.

Mr. Wiest was reappointed to his council seat in 2016 when he and incumbent Elizabeth Lewis were the only candidates to file for the two open seats, and the town chose not to hold an election.

Mr. Wiest thanked his fellow council members for "honoring me with the role as mayor."

"We are a good team and work well together in the interests of the town of Atherton," he said.

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Priorities for the coming year, he said, are already in place: beginning construction of the civic center, building a water-capture facility in Holbrook-Palmer Park, and completing and acting on the fiscal review of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District.

He said the town has a number of other projects on its plate for the coming year, including revising its heritage tree regulations, working to update its general plan, updates to the town's website, and studies of traffic and drainage.

While the town is known for its wealth and real estate values, it also has more than 7,000 students attending schools within its boundaries, he said. With that in mind, the town is working to improve routes used by students to walk and bike to school, to promote traffic safety, and to improve communications between the schools and the town, he said.

In April, the town will be holding an active shooter exercise at Menlo School led by Atherton Police Chief Steve McCulley, and involving a number of other agencies and jurisdictions, Mr. Wiest said.

"I look forward to continuing to support the town and its residents in making Atherton the best it can be," he said.

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Mr. Widmer was last chosen as mayor in late 2011. He was re-elected to the council in 2014.

Before Mr. Wiest was named mayor, outgoing Mayor Mike Lempres thanked "all the volunteers and the families who make this town work," including his fellow council members and their families and spouses.

He said there are two projects he is "actually quite proud of" that made significant progress in his term: the completion of the installation on El Camino Real of three pedestrian-activated stoplights, and the progress on building a new civic center.

"Long-term vision is important," he said, noting that both of those projects have been in the works for many years.

Rick DeGolia was nominated as vice mayor by council member Elizabeth Lewis, but he declined the nomination and instead nominated Mr. Widmer. The votes for both Mr. Wiest and Mr. Widmer were unanimous.

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Cary Wiest is Atherton's new mayor

Vice Mayor is Bill Widmer

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Thu, Dec 28, 2017, 9:14 am

Veteran council member Cary Wiest will serve his second term as Atherton's mayor for the coming year, with Bill Widmer serving as vice mayor. Both were chosen for their new roles by their fellow council members on Dec. 20.

Mr. Wiest, 53, was first elected in 2012. He was previously named mayor in late 2013.

Mr. Wiest was reappointed to his council seat in 2016 when he and incumbent Elizabeth Lewis were the only candidates to file for the two open seats, and the town chose not to hold an election.

Mr. Wiest thanked his fellow council members for "honoring me with the role as mayor."

"We are a good team and work well together in the interests of the town of Atherton," he said.

Priorities for the coming year, he said, are already in place: beginning construction of the civic center, building a water-capture facility in Holbrook-Palmer Park, and completing and acting on the fiscal review of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District.

He said the town has a number of other projects on its plate for the coming year, including revising its heritage tree regulations, working to update its general plan, updates to the town's website, and studies of traffic and drainage.

While the town is known for its wealth and real estate values, it also has more than 7,000 students attending schools within its boundaries, he said. With that in mind, the town is working to improve routes used by students to walk and bike to school, to promote traffic safety, and to improve communications between the schools and the town, he said.

In April, the town will be holding an active shooter exercise at Menlo School led by Atherton Police Chief Steve McCulley, and involving a number of other agencies and jurisdictions, Mr. Wiest said.

"I look forward to continuing to support the town and its residents in making Atherton the best it can be," he said.

Mr. Widmer was last chosen as mayor in late 2011. He was re-elected to the council in 2014.

Before Mr. Wiest was named mayor, outgoing Mayor Mike Lempres thanked "all the volunteers and the families who make this town work," including his fellow council members and their families and spouses.

He said there are two projects he is "actually quite proud of" that made significant progress in his term: the completion of the installation on El Camino Real of three pedestrian-activated stoplights, and the progress on building a new civic center.

"Long-term vision is important," he said, noting that both of those projects have been in the works for many years.

Rick DeGolia was nominated as vice mayor by council member Elizabeth Lewis, but he declined the nomination and instead nominated Mr. Widmer. The votes for both Mr. Wiest and Mr. Widmer were unanimous.

Comments

observer
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 28, 2017 at 12:32 pm
observer, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 28, 2017 at 12:32 pm

Congratulations !!


Hmmm
Atherton: West Atherton
on Dec 28, 2017 at 1:13 pm
Hmmm, Atherton: West Atherton
on Dec 28, 2017 at 1:13 pm

I thought the mayor and vice mayor roles follow a rotation and Widmer has been passed over how many times now? He was last mayor in 2012, and Wiest in 2014! Seems like some people on the council like Lewis are trying to haze this man or perhaps more accurately break him. Thanks to DeGolia for speaking up, but Widmer was supposed to be rotated in as mayor a year or two ago, not a year from now.

Just saying.


Citizen
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 29, 2017 at 10:59 am
Citizen, Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 29, 2017 at 10:59 am

Lewis poses a disadvantage to Atherton. It’s not surprising that the last election there were no new comers. Just like the fire board, who would want to subject themselves to that punishment, even monthly....


Apple
Atherton: other
on Dec 29, 2017 at 2:17 pm
Apple, Atherton: other
on Dec 29, 2017 at 2:17 pm

@Citizen

The fire board had numerous well qualified applicants this year when one of the board members resigned. The board members have a more contentious relationship, but they undertake their duties professionally.

The Atherton council is very collegial and collaborative these days compared to a decade ago. They have been productive, not counterproductive. When things were really contentious back then, there were many candidates running for council. If there was a time people didn't want to subject themselves to personal sniping, it was then.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 29, 2017 at 3:26 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Dec 29, 2017 at 3:26 pm

Public service is a privilege and a challenge.

Some self proclaimed citizens are just not up to that challenge.


Hmmm
Atherton: West Atherton
on Dec 29, 2017 at 10:50 pm
Hmmm, Atherton: West Atherton
on Dec 29, 2017 at 10:50 pm

Let’s not divert attention from Lewis’ childish behavior about the mayor title with the fire board.

Apple, we actually do want multiple people running for the same seat. It creates sharper representation. You wouldn’t dream of suggesting we only have one candidate for president, and the same analysis holds for the local level. As a Tip O’Neill famously said, all politics is local.

So, unchallenged elections are actually not s good thing and perhaps Citizen has a point in that many residents probably don’t want to be subjected to what poor Widmer has had to go through, and not just about the mayor title. Let’s not forget what Rodericks and Lewis did to him with his town manager job in SoCal. Lewis is creating a cautionary tale about what happens to people who disagree with her or go against her initiatives. It worked with Widmer. He even came out for he parcel tax and town center even though his record is one of much deeper fiscal responsibility.

It’s the pressure to “fit in” and be “ very collegial and collaboratively, as you say, but that’s just lingo for go with Lewis’ program.

The program, by he way, hasn’t done very well as private donations failed for the center and the parcel tax make up plan also failed. Widmer would have done better politically by following his record on both these issues given how they turned out.


Apple
Atherton: other
on Dec 30, 2017 at 3:23 pm
Apple, Atherton: other
on Dec 30, 2017 at 3:23 pm

@Hmmm

I wasn't trying to make a case of what should have happened in the last Atherton council election. Rather, I explained why no one stepped up to run in that election besides incumbents. Citizen's logic doesn't make sense. She suggested it was due to contention among the board. How can that be when it was much more contentious years ago and many more residents ran for the board?

An alternative explanation is that people are overall satisfied with the board. That doesn't mean every citizen agrees with everything board members do. Just satisfied enough that no challenger ran, not even you.

Your memory of history is off when it comes to Lewis.

Last year, when the vice mayor nominations came up, it was Lempres that nominated Wiest. DeGolia provided the second. Wiest could have declined the nomination. That's three members that would like Wiest to server as vice mayor, a majority, with Lewis uninvolved besides voting with the rest of the council on the nomination.

When Widmer's SoCal town manager issue came up, DeGolia asked Widmer to resign, not Lewis.

If there is any pressure to "fit in", it comes from the electorate. In the 2014 election, Widmer came in third place, finishing behind newcomer Lempres and almost losing to newcomer Hau. Longtime incumbents don't have this type of showing unless the electorate is unhappy. In the 2012 election, Lewis and Wiest finished well ahead of Kupperman. In 2013, DeGolia finished well ahead of Sandhu. The voters supply the political capital and the politicians have to adjust to their demands.

As for fiscal responsibility, Widmer is still doing a great job. He is still the most vocal when it comes to questions about spending and fiscal process.

You may not want Atherton to have its own police force nor to use general funds to pay for a new civic center, but a majority of Atherton voters do want these. It's up to the town council to make that happen in a fiscally responsible way.


Hmmm
Atherton: West Atherton
on Dec 30, 2017 at 8:34 pm
Hmmm, Atherton: West Atherton
on Dec 30, 2017 at 8:34 pm

"How can that be when it was much more contentious years ago and many more residents ran for the board?"

Because although there was more (healthy) debate/contention years ago, residents did not fear repercussions from such debate.

"The voters supply the political capital and the politicians have to adjust to their demands."

This theory should have led to a vastly scaled-down town center after the parcel tax failed, but hasn't under the Lewis-dominated council.

"Your memory of history is off when it comes to Lewis."

You're assuming Lewis wasn't pulling the strings of who nominated whom and how Widmer's SoCal situation played out. Well-informed people don't. Watch the movie "Mean Girls" if you need a refresher course.


Apple
Atherton: other
on Dec 30, 2017 at 11:28 pm
Apple, Atherton: other
on Dec 30, 2017 at 11:28 pm

@Hmmm

What repercussions are you talking about? There was a healthy debate around Measure A and F this year. Both measures had arguments and rebuttals. I'm not aware of any repercussions for those who opposed either of these two measures.

Years ago, Atherton politics had more mud-slinging, animosity, and lawsuits. I would not call it healthy. It was so bad that town employees resigned in rapid succession and council meetings were filled with heated public comments about anonymous blogs.

With respect to the parcel tax loss, the council is cutting costs for all planned capital projects. That includes the town center.

Keep in mind, Measure A passed with a decent sized majority. Even Measure F had over 50% of the electorate voting for it. A majority want something close to a new town center as it is currently planned. Thus, the council should enact some cutbacks to make the numbers work, but keep the main town center plans in place, which is what the majority wants.

Go back and re-read the No on Measure F arguments again. Do you know how many times they mention the town center as a reason to vote no? Zero. I don't see how you can conclude Measure F was a referendum on the town center when it was never mentioned by those opposing it.

Measure A was a referendum on the town center and it passed.

Since you believe Lewis is a political mastermind, exactly what was so clever about her DeGolia vice mayor nomination? DeGolia declined it and handed the vice mayorship to Widmer. I really don't think that was what Lewis planned to happen. But since you are more familiar with her methods, please enlighten me.


Hmmm
Atherton: West Atherton
on Dec 31, 2017 at 8:04 am
Hmmm, Atherton: West Atherton
on Dec 31, 2017 at 8:04 am

Apple, first of all, if you truly believe the environment now is so collegial and collaborative, and repercussions are a paranoid delusion, why not post under your real name?

Repercussions for opposing the parcel tax? For the first time in Atherton's history, "No on F" campaign signs were removed per order of the city manager. This was an incredibly chilling event, undoubtedly swayed the election In a major way – and the parcel tax still failed! Shame on the Almanac for not calling the city manager and town council out on this outrageous interference with the democratic process. At the time, a legal analysis was posted by Peter Carpenter showing the town previously studied the issue and determined it would be entirely illegal to remove signs unless EXIGENT circumstances exited, not allegations of code violations. Nor can Atherton pass a legal code that would constrain free speech.

You view the various elections on the town center in a different way than I do. We're each entitled to our own interpretation. Mine: the original vote (are you okay if private donations pay for it) obviously passed. Why not? The second vote (should the "town" pay money for it) passed (barely) by quite a bit less. The third vote (should the actual residents fund a parcel tax to pay for it) failed. When the rubber met the road – are voters ready to pay for it – the answer was no. (I know you disagree this is what the vote stood for, but even DeGolia admitted that in the absence of the town center, the parcel tax would not be needed, so it's just labeling).

Getting to your last point, DeGolia proposed Lewis for vice mayor when it was Widmer's turn some years ago. He apologized to Widmer, stating he wanted to see her as mayor one last time because she wasn't going to run again. Well, that obviously was a broken promise on Lewis' part. I assume Lewis did what she did at the recent meeting to repay the favor. Lewis' "control" of DeGolia doesn't amount to giving direct orders. Manipulation also counts. It's worked a lot of the time. This time it didn't. Maybe even DeGolia is tired of the pettiness. I admit, he is way more mature than Lewis.


Apple
Atherton: other
on Jan 2, 2018 at 6:31 pm
Apple, Atherton: other
on Jan 2, 2018 at 6:31 pm

@Hmmm

Signs for Yes and No on Measure F were both removed during the campaign when they violated the town's right of way ordinance. You can see George Rodericks' post with more info on what transpired in the comments section:
Web Link

This was not isolated to the No signs only.

Your evidence of terrible repercussions is underwhelming. And your characterization of past events is completely wrong.

Lewis was nominated as the 2015 vice mayor by Wiest and seconded by Lempres. DeGolia didn't nominate anyone so the apology to Widmer and Lewis' "promise to DeGolia could never have happened. If you don't believe me, watch the meeting video.
Web Link

I'll withhold my real name for fear of being drawn into your conspiracy theories and innuendo.


Hmmm
Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 2, 2018 at 7:38 pm
Hmmm, Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 2, 2018 at 7:38 pm

Apple, you mean it's not possible DeGolia apologized to Widmer for going along with that breach of protocol? Your arguments are very underwhelming, and the apology happened.

Rodericks' comments are meaningless. More No signs were removed, and if you think it's equally chilling for the government to remove "yes on taxes [or any government initiative]" vs. protest signs, you're totally misguided.

And, I see, there are no possible repercussions in this environment unless it's by someone you disagree with. That's good enough for me to deem my point proven.


Apple
Atherton: other
on Jan 3, 2018 at 5:54 pm
Apple, Atherton: other
on Jan 3, 2018 at 5:54 pm

@Hmmm,

A word of advice.

If you want to persuade people and not be regarded as a partisan bomb thrower, own up to your misstatements and mischaracterizations.

If your purpose is to rant about conspiracy theories, but have no one believe you, mission accomplished!

Your singular hatred for Lewis has blinded your rationality.


Hmmm
Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 3, 2018 at 8:27 pm
Hmmm, Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 3, 2018 at 8:27 pm

Apple, thanks for the advice, and let me offer some to you as well. Don’t assume everyone agrees with your position . It’s not true that no one believes what I’ve said. Believe it or not, the reason the parcel tax failed is because Lewis’ group didn’t think it was possible that more than 1/3 (not 0%) of people didn’t buy in to the strategy and no efforts were mad to achieve any type of broader consensus. The number turned out to be half of Atherton’s residents.

Also, in all of your “rational analysis” you never really covered the core issue of whether it was appropriate for Widmer to be passed over for a few years.


Apple
Atherton: other
on Jan 4, 2018 at 6:57 am
Apple, Atherton: other
on Jan 4, 2018 at 6:57 am

@Hmmm

I'm going to dispute your "knowledge" of exactly what Lewis's group didn't know or didn't do. I did talk to Yes campaign supporters prior to the election, which means there was outreach. It was quite a candid conversation. They acknowledged it would be tough to get Measure F passed. That's one of the reasons they asked for a three year renewal rather than four.

Town finances are doing great. City government was lean and efficient. (Thanks to the town council, including Widmer, for its excellent financial management!) Property taxes looked like they would continue to grow for the foreseeable future.

As a result, there was no urgency in extending the parcel tax as there was in previous years. That likely hurt the outreach effort as it would be harder to find campaign volunteers. If Measure F lost, the repercussions were relatively minor, mostly maintenance delays. Atherton could always borrow if it needed to start a project right away, then use future property tax growth to pay off the debt.

Widmer also voted for the parcel tax. I find it funny that you blame Lewis specifically, but do not ascribe any fault with him or any other council member for lack of outreach or building consensus.

Whether it was appropriate to pass over Widmer is a core issue for you, I don't think it is for many other Athertonians. Is getting passed over fair? No. But this is politics. Politics is never fair. The more policy power a governing body has the higher the stakes and less fair the process.

Of all the things to worry about in Atherton, whether a politician's feelings got hurt is not one of them for me.


Hmmm
Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 4, 2018 at 7:25 am
Hmmm, Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 4, 2018 at 7:25 am

Apple, my interest in how Lewis has tried to pass Widmer over as mayor for several years in a row now has less to do with his feelings than my concern that she is not showing requisite maturity and consideration for others, and how that might affect how she goes about doing her job as a representative. Sort of like how people are concerned with Donald Trump's remarks because of how they reflect on him rather than the person he's going after feeling slighted. I think I do agree with you (do I?) that we've talked through this issue more than fully at this point. For what it's worth, I'm not a Widmer supporter but it is pretty clear you support Lewis.


peninsula resident
another community
on Jan 4, 2018 at 9:27 am
peninsula resident, another community
on Jan 4, 2018 at 9:27 am

"Lewis has tried to pass Widmer over as mayor"

Ugh, what a waste of time.

I have news for you: you are not a mind reader. Additionally, you do not possess the powers of invisibility or teleportation.

My point is, you have no legitimate way of knowing what you claim. Also, it's worth pointing out that Widmer is not required to be mayor, and it is entirely possible he's not interested in being mayor again.

It's pretty clear you have an ax to grind, for some reason that only you know.

Instead of obsessing over Lewis, I suggest you focus on the black helicopters that are clearly following your every move! :)


Hmmm
Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 4, 2018 at 9:54 am
Hmmm, Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 4, 2018 at 9:54 am

You’re funny. And obviously either hypocritical or have a bad memory. When Lewis was passed over as vice mayor some years back she and her supporters accused the other council members of violating the Brown Act.


Apple
Atherton: other
on Jan 4, 2018 at 5:33 pm
Apple, Atherton: other
on Jan 4, 2018 at 5:33 pm

For the record, I support all the council members. They each have different strengths and weakness. However, they do share a deep engagement in town affairs, are collaborative, and are strong advocates for the residents.

It's very different than a decade ago when even basic day to day government couldn't function without one controversy or another. That was a time Atherton couldn't address any of its major capital projects, but still had constant budget issues. Part of the problem was due to all the staff firing/quitting and hiring going on and lawsuits. It cost Atherton a lot of time and money.

This group of council members are very professional and have cut out all that nonsense.


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