News

Gaines tapped to serve as Palo Alto's new deputy city manager

Veteran of local government service to fill a senior position vacant since April

Chantal Cotton Gaines, a fixture in Palo Alto's recent efforts to launch the Office of Transportation and advance a new vision for the rail corridor, has been promoted to deputy city manager, City Manager Ed Shikada announced Tuesday.

Newly appointed Palo Alto Deputy City Manager Chantal Cotton Gaines. Courtesy city of Palo Alto.

Gaines, a 12-year veteran of local government service, has spent the past three years as assistant to the city manager, first under former City Manager James Keene and later under Shikada. Her recent projects include helping the city launch its Office of Transportation and facilitating meetings of the Expanded Community Advisory Panel, a citizen group that is helping the city select a preferred alternative for rail design.

Shikada said in a statement that the promotion is effective immediately. In her new job, she will have a greater role in furthering intergovernmental relations, managing the city's initiatives on race and equity (including public safety reform) and other citywide priorities, according to the announcement.

She will be stepping into a position that has been vacant since April, when Michelle Poche Flaherty resigned to become assistant city manager in Redwood City.

Before coming to Palo Alto, Gaines had spent four years with the city of Oakland, where she led the development of a $25 million annual public safety and violence prevention initiative, according to the city. A native of Flint, Michigan, Gaines has also previously served in city administration and leadership roles for the city of College Park in Maryland, and the city of Ypsilanti and Washtenaw County in Michigan.

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Shikada said in the statement that he is proud to make the promotional appointment.

"This leadership role will build on Chantal's demonstrated experience in addressing complex community needs here in Palo Alto and previously in Oakland, as we continue to adapt to the pandemic and fiscal challenges, providing City services and furthering the City Council's priorities," Shikada said.

Gaines, who lives in East Palo Alto, said in the statement that she is "grateful for the opportunity to serve the Palo Alto community in this new capacity."

"I am proud to have a strong family history with both Palo Alto and East Palo Alto, from my mother-in-law's previous business in Palo Alto to my husband being a proud Paly Viking alum, and I am thrilled to continue to give back to the local community I call home," Gaines said.

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Gaines tapped to serve as Palo Alto's new deputy city manager

Veteran of local government service to fill a senior position vacant since April

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Oct 13, 2020, 4:54 pm

Chantal Cotton Gaines, a fixture in Palo Alto's recent efforts to launch the Office of Transportation and advance a new vision for the rail corridor, has been promoted to deputy city manager, City Manager Ed Shikada announced Tuesday.

Gaines, a 12-year veteran of local government service, has spent the past three years as assistant to the city manager, first under former City Manager James Keene and later under Shikada. Her recent projects include helping the city launch its Office of Transportation and facilitating meetings of the Expanded Community Advisory Panel, a citizen group that is helping the city select a preferred alternative for rail design.

Shikada said in a statement that the promotion is effective immediately. In her new job, she will have a greater role in furthering intergovernmental relations, managing the city's initiatives on race and equity (including public safety reform) and other citywide priorities, according to the announcement.

She will be stepping into a position that has been vacant since April, when Michelle Poche Flaherty resigned to become assistant city manager in Redwood City.

Before coming to Palo Alto, Gaines had spent four years with the city of Oakland, where she led the development of a $25 million annual public safety and violence prevention initiative, according to the city. A native of Flint, Michigan, Gaines has also previously served in city administration and leadership roles for the city of College Park in Maryland, and the city of Ypsilanti and Washtenaw County in Michigan.

Shikada said in the statement that he is proud to make the promotional appointment.

"This leadership role will build on Chantal's demonstrated experience in addressing complex community needs here in Palo Alto and previously in Oakland, as we continue to adapt to the pandemic and fiscal challenges, providing City services and furthering the City Council's priorities," Shikada said.

Gaines, who lives in East Palo Alto, said in the statement that she is "grateful for the opportunity to serve the Palo Alto community in this new capacity."

"I am proud to have a strong family history with both Palo Alto and East Palo Alto, from my mother-in-law's previous business in Palo Alto to my husband being a proud Paly Viking alum, and I am thrilled to continue to give back to the local community I call home," Gaines said.

Comments

S. Underwood
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Oct 14, 2020 at 7:33 am
S. Underwood, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 7:33 am
29 people like this

What happened to our hiring freeze, after our massive cuts? Guess that doesn't apply to Mr. Shikada's massive bloat project that is the City Manager's Office.

We have core functions vacant up and down the city. I am exasperated by Mr. Shikada's management, bloated inner circle, and the council's lack of oversight.

Also, the article forgot to mention that we just promoted an assistant TO the City Manger to a Deputy City Manager (a jump of about 6 ranks) without any open recruitment, posting, or hiring process. I would honestly like to know how that is allowed in 2020.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 14, 2020 at 8:22 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 8:22 am
9 people like this

If one of her main responsibilities was/is the RR crossing, she certainly failed in her outreach efforts. I tried to take the online survey about it when they sent out a "this is your final opportunity to weigh in. Take this survey TODAY!" message on NextDoor.

The survey was posted by a citizen -- not her office -- and the survey didn't work. Lots of people were asking what they were doing wrong because it didn't work. Her office should have notified us, the taxpayers, and just maybe bothered to test the survey first. They certainly have our emails and physical mailing addresses.

We deserve better and I hope the new CC and auditor will finally start providing the much-needed oversight.

PS: Did they ever get the promised app working that would warn us of planned road construction so we could avoid those areas??


Gethin
Registered user
Midtown
on Oct 14, 2020 at 1:16 pm
Gethin, Midtown
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 1:16 pm
16 people like this

Why do we need an Assistant City Manager and a Deputy City Manager?


Bob Wenzlau
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Oct 14, 2020 at 5:18 pm
Bob Wenzlau, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 5:18 pm
15 people like this

I have had the opportunity to work with our new Deputy City Manager. As an engaged citizen that serves on commissions and helps run community organizations, I have worked extensively with Chantal, and know her capabilities will serve us well. Many requests to the city are multi-departmental, and necessarily rise to the City Manager's office. While some will complain of the "bloat", they equally expect their need to be met when that moment arises. She is a remarkable civil servant, brings an eye toward diversity, a young parent, and very thorough in her followup. Like anyone younger than 75, she has lessons to learn, and will grow into the position, but this to me is awesome news, and I am so happy to share my excitement at her new role.


S. Underwood
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Oct 15, 2020 at 7:04 am
S. Underwood, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2020 at 7:04 am
22 people like this

@Bob. -- I don't know you personally, but you literally went on a taxpayer funded trip to China with Ms. Gaines. Please recuse yourself from sharing opinions on what is or isn't "bloat."

Also, without any criticism of Ms. Gaines specifically, hiring without proper process is 100% not okay. Our City has become wonderful at spinning things to its citizens. Framing it as a "promotion" doesn't work when you go from being an assistant to one of the highest level management positions we have. Dozens of qualified and diverse applicants have been denied an opportunity. We have become more and more a city culture that just takes care of friends... trips around the world and all....


Shiyama (Rickford) Clunie
Registered user
Barron Park
on Oct 15, 2020 at 10:11 pm
Shiyama (Rickford) Clunie, Barron Park
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2020 at 10:11 pm
1 person likes this

As someone who grew up in Palo Alto and whose parents still reside there, I’m thrilled that Ms. Gaines has proven, over more than a decade of service, that she has the aptitude and acumen to assume this noteworthy leadership position. How unfortunate that some have chosen to try to undermine Ms. Gaines by posting comments riddled with undertones of jealousy and unfounded doubt. May Ms. Gaines focus on continuing the legacy of community leadership that has undergirded her success so far. May she bring enthusiasm, focus, and energy to her work, and may she remain unfettered by slights from those who neither know of nor appreciate her years of proven service so far. Even they will benefit from her work, and time will tell the true story. Note also that during daunting economic times like these, it is typical that organizations of all types prefer to promote from within, avoiding the risk and costs that accompany hiring “off the street.”

May this promising new leader enjoy every success and the continued support of those who intimately know her skills, her heart, and the record of accomplishments that brought her this far. Congratulations!


Ardan Michael Blum
Registered user
Downtown North
on Oct 16, 2020 at 8:34 am
Ardan Michael Blum, Downtown North
Registered user
on Oct 16, 2020 at 8:34 am
2 people like this

Outstanding choice. She is extremely devoted to our city.


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