All joking aside, LAH Council selects new leadership for 2018

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Gary Waldeck, left, Los Altos Hills’ outgoing mayor, wishes his successor, John Radford, well at a changing-of-the-guard ceremony Dec. 14.

The Los Altos Hills City Council selected its new mayor Dec. 14 during an uncharacteristically short monthly meeting long on quips.

“I’ve already alerted our council that I’m not ready to quit,” said Councilman Gary Waldeck, the outgoing mayor. “Unfortunately, they suggested I bend over and let them use something as a target, and I’m not really willing to do that either.”

Waldeck, nevertheless, joined his fellow councilmembers in unanimously approving Councilman John Radford as mayor and Councilman Roger Spreen as vice mayor for 2018.

Spreen earned perhaps the heartiest audience laughter of the night with a gentle jab at Waldeck’s enduring campaign to secure a unique ZIP code for the town.

“It’s new stationery with the new ZIP code on it,” Spreen said as Waldeck unwrapped a commemorative plaque and clock from the council.

A brief update on the ZIP code project – the town mailed a formal request to the U.S. Postal Service Dec. 7 – completed Waldeck’s presentation on the town’s progress in the year under his leadership. He listed among the council’s accomplishments bringing private roads into the town’s inventory of streets, helping residents without adequate internet service obtain it and completing a town operational assessment to streamline processes and improve services for residents.

The council, however, still has work to do in regard to regulating short-term rentals, establishing term limits for town committee membership and reconciling some residents’ desire to continually add to the town’s pathways system with other residents’ concerns about forfeiting personal property, funds and privacy to do so.

“All in all, I think we’ve had a super year,” Waldeck said. “We haven’t had many controversies, and those we have we haven’t told you about, so don’t worry about them. I think the council has worked together very respectfully and professionally, and when I compare what I see at other councils, I’m delighted to have this group here.”

Accolades from his fellow councilmembers followed.

“Gary, I just want to thank you,” said Councilwoman Courtenay C. Corrigan. “Your leadership both times as mayor has been exceptional. You run a great meeting, and I really have enjoyed working with you on subcommittees as well as this council – even when we don’t agree.”

“Thank you with all my heart,” Councilwoman Michelle Wu said. “Gary, you are my hero.”

Radford briefly outlined his goals for 2018, including “rationalizing” pathway development procedures and establishing a more equitable distribution of construction costs among residents. He also questioned whether officials couldn’t be more financially aggressive and use the town’s estimated $10 million in reserves to invest in services for residents. Some of that money might go toward his proposal to expand town hall facilities to answer demand from community members who desire space for meetings, classes and activities. He plans to advocate for a detailed study regarding a “master campus plan” for city hall.

Radford said he wants the council to approach town priorities by thinking about the Los Altos Hills of 10 years from now.

“I think that we’ll find that we may start doing a few things differently when we really take a long-term view rather than just a year review,” he said. “So, more to come.”

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