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Eleven apply for Atherton council seat

Apparently, it's not that Atherton residents don't want to serve on the City Council, they just don't want to run for election.

In a surprising turn of events for a town where seven of the last 10 City Council elections have been uncontested, 11 people have applied for appointment to the council. They range from former six-term Councilman Malcolm Dudley and several other well- known, longtime civic volunteers to a real estate developer and a recently graduated political science major.

Council members plan to interview the applicants at a special meeting beginning at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, in the council chambers at 91 Ashfield Road. At that meeting, the four council members may vote to appoint someone to complete the last 11 months of the late Bill Conwell's term.

The applicants are to be given 10- minute time slots and will be called in random order, the council decided at its regular Jan. 18 meeting.

Following Conwell's unexpected death on Christmas Day, the council has a Jan. 24 deadline to either appoint a replacement or call for a special election in June. The term ends in November.

The 11 applicants who submitted letters of interest by the Jan. 18 deadline are, in alphabetical order: Jerry Carlson, Joseph Comartin, John Davey, Malcolm Dudley, Bob Jenkins, Philip Lively, Jim Massey, Richard Moore, Carol Smith, Kristi Waldron and Benjamin Weiss.

"There have been many years when we could hardly find anyone to run for the council," said Shirley Carlson, a member of the Atherton Park and Recreation Commission whose husband is one of the applicants. "I find it quite exciting that 11 people are willing to step up."

The applicants

In alphabetical area, the applicants are:

Jerry Carlson is the current president of the Atherton Civic Interest League, the CFO of the Selby Education Foundation, and a member of the town's Caltrain Corridor Subcommittee. A14-year Atherton resident, he spent 23 years as a division manager for Hewlett-Packard and is a former chair of the Atherton Audit Committee.

Joseph Comartin is a real estate developer whose wife is a third-generation Atherton resident. Last year he completed a formerly abandoned new-home project on Atherton Avenue, and is currently building a new residence on Polhemus Avenue, he said in his application letter. He was a project manager for SummerHill Homes, building more than 500 homes on the Peninsula and in the South Bay, he said.

John Davey is the vice chair of the Atherton Park and Recreation Commission, on the board of Menlo Park's Cancer Support and Education Center, and is a past-president of the Committee for Green Foothills. He is self-employed with more than 30 years of experience in sales and marketing of telecommunication products.

Malcolm Dudley, who previously served 24 years on the Atherton City Council, said in his application letter that he would focus on resolving the town's issues with Caltrain. He has been a transportation advocate for the past 30 years, serving 13 years on the board of the San Mateo County Transportation Authority. He worked on the first Measure A committee to create a list of transportation projects for voter approval. Dudley said he won't be able to attend the January 21 special meeting.

Bob Jenkins, a former member of the Atherton Audit Committee, is a director and past president of the Atherton Civic Interest League. A retired Marine Corps officer and a 30-year Atherton resident, Jenkins said his primary business career has been in consumer product marketing, crisis and turnaround management, strategic planning and corporate development. He ran for the Atherton council in 1996 and 2000, but did not win a seat.

Philip Lively is currently a member of the town's General Plan Committee, Caltrain Corridor Subcommittee, the president of the Lindenwood Homes Association and an adviser to the Atherton Channel Drainage District Subcommittee. He served on the Atherton Planning Commission from 1996 to 2004. He was involved in two successful campaigns to pass Atherton's special parcel tax -- in 2001 as co-chair and in 2005 as the chair.

Jim Massey is a 35-year Atherton resident and a member of the Atherton Park and Recreation Commission representing the Holbrook-Palmer Park Foundation. He's a past president of the Holbrook-Palmer Park Foundation and a past director of the Atherton Civic Interest League.

Richard Moore served as Atherton's city manager and director of public safety from 1989 to 1993, and as the chief of the Atherton Police Department from 1976 to 1989. From 1965 to 1976, he held various posts in the police department including sergeant and lieutenant.

Carol Smith is the secretary of the Lindenwood Homes Association, a member of the Young Lindenwood Family Group and served as the "PR and computer wizard" of the Measure W campaign to pass the parcel tax in 2005. She said she worked closely with David Packard as a manager of cultural programs for Hewlett-Packard.

Kristi Waldron is an architect and current member of the Atherton Planning Commission. She previously served one year on the town's General Plan Committee. She said she would encourage "green" building techniques in Atherton and be an advocate for children's programs and young families in town.

Benjamin Weiss is a recent graduate of the University of Arizona with a degree in political science and a minor in business administration. He said he served as an intern in Washington, D.C., for Congressman Tom Lantos, worked on Steve Westley's successful campaign for state controller, and served in his university's student body senate.

To view the application letters, contact the city clerk at 752-0500.

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