Jill Keimach’s four-year contract includes a
$245,000 annual base salary.
ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL |
Alameda named its next city manager Tuesday night, but without the support of Mayor Trish Spencer. In an almost unprecedented move, Spencer was the lone vote against officially hiring Jill Keimach as the city’s new city manager. Spencer also opposed in closed session earlier this month to offer Keimach the job.
Spencer did not elaborate on the reasons behind her vote, except to say, “I do not plan to support this… and with all due respect to my colleagues and to Jill Keimach, who will be our next city manager, I respectfully disagree that this is the appropriate choice for the future of our city.”
Later Spencer told
Action Alameda News that Keimach’s breadth of experience was lacking for a bigger city like Alameda.“We are a real, mid-sized city, and active city, not a small city,” Spencer said. “This is not a good time for Alameda to be a training ground for a city manager. We need a city manager who’s ready to go. It’s a great opportunity for her. The other side of that is that it’s a risk for our city. I think she has potential, I don’t think Alameda has time. We need a city manager to lead now. It’s not easy.”
Over questions of why she did not follow the council’s lead in supporting Keimach’s appointment, despite a clear consensus among her colleagues, she told the site, “I believe people expect me to vote what I believe in. If I don’t believe in something, I don’t put my name on it.”
In most municipalities there exists an unspoken expectation that city councils unanimously, if not symbolically, approve the hiring of city managers. In some cases, the lack of unanimity has resulted in the candidate removing themselves from consideration. Keimach, however, isn’t going anywhere. Duirng Tuesday night’s meeting she expressed honor for being chosen to lead the city’s day-to-day operations.
Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer offered no
specific reasons why she opposed Keimach
as the city’s next city manager.
But, the mayor’s no vote appeared to have rankled some of her colleagues. Alameda Councilmember Frank Matarrese pointedly mentioned during his remarks that four members had voted for Keimach’s hiring. Alameda Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, also made veiled remarks toward Spencer’s opposition by noting the mayor going forward should acknowledge the will of the entire council supports Keimach. While referencing advice she was once given, Ashcraft said of the council, “We don’t do things as an individual.”
Alameda Councilmember Tony Daysog added he believed Keimach’s tenure as Moraga’s town manager was effective and conciliatory. “I’m very pleased that we selected Ms. Keimach and I think Alamedans, in general, will be confident in the selection that we made,” said Daysog.
Councilmember Jim Oddie agreed and said discussions with the city’s panel of community members tasked with vetting candidates also viewed Keimach positively. Spencer, though, questioned whether Oddie’s comments violated the panel’s confidentiality and later said she disagreed with Oddie’s characterization of the panel’s sentiment toward Keimach.
Despite the disagreement, Keimach’s hiring ends a seven-month search to replace John Russo, who left Alameda in May for the same position in Riverside, Calif. Liz Warmerdam has served as interim city manager since. She will remain in Alameda as one of Keimach’s assistant city manager, the city announced last month.
Keimach (pronounced KAI-mack)
served the last five years as Moraga’s town manager before stints as community development director in Fremont and El Cerrito. Keimach’s four-year contract will pay her an annual base salary of $245,000. Her tenure in Alameda begins Mar. 7.
NOTE: Spencer’s quotes to Action Alameda News were added to this article.