Leadership positions were filled last week by both the City Council and the Pleasanton school board, but not without a bit of angst.
School board member Valerie Arkin's bid to become president of the board in 2010 in a nomination made by fellow trustee Jamie Hintzke was rejected by board members Chris Grant, Pat Kernan and Jim Ott. Instead, they chose Grant to serve a second term as president, with Kernan as clerk, as Arkin and Hintzke voted against the nomination.
Across First Street, the City Council had its own dispute after Mayor Jennifer Hosterman appointed Councilman Jerry Thorne to serve as vice mayor in the coming year. That riled Councilwoman Cindy McGovern, who wanted Councilman Matt Sullivan to have the assignment, following what McGovern said has been a tradition of rotating the vice mayor's position "so that we all have the chance to serve our community."
In the end, the Thorne appointment was approved in a 4-1 vote, with McGovern voting against it. Sullivan, who on a rotational basis would have been next in line for the post, voted to support Thorne.
"I'm voting in favor because I know that Jerry (Thorne) would do a good job as a vice mayor," Sullivan said. "I will say that I did send the mayor and city manager emails requesting that I be appointed because it was my turn. I did not receive any communication back from the mayor, but I won't hold that against Jerry."
Hosterman said that she has been appointed to serve on three more and "very important" committees that will require more meetings outside of Pleasanton each month. She explained that Thorne, who is retired, is in the city most of the time and can fill in for her as needed whereas Sullivan works in San Francisco and has less time to help her out during the daytime hours.
"So to that end, I've asked Councilman Thorne to serve as vice mayor for the coming year, and he has agreed," Hosterman added. "I agree with Councilwoman McGovern that it's very important to allow everyone serving on the council to have their turn, and everyone now has."
McGovern insisted, however, that the rotation system be honored and followed. When Hosterman again said that she needed a vice mayor who would be in Pleasanton most days, McGovern retorted, "Well, how about me? I'm here most days, too."
At the Pleasanton school board meeting, the debate over who should serve as president next year was more contentious.
Board member Jamie Hintzke said fellow trustee Valerie Arkin, who was elected to the school board in November 2008, has the experience and time to devote to the demands of the board president's office.
"The reason I chose Valerie is because we work well together, she really does have the time to talk to people in the community, she gets back to people when they call, she meets with them for coffee, she is in Pleasanton all the time, every day," Hintzke said.
Board members agreed that two major issues facing the school district next year -- another looming budget shortfall and the June retirement of Supt. John Casey and the hiring of his replacement this spring -- will require even a greater time commitment from the board president in 2010.
Arkin said she has the time, is the one board member who doesn't have a job outside the home, and "so I would have time during the transition to work with Dr. Casey in transitioning to a new superintendent."
But the other three board members disagreed.
"I want Chris (Grant) to stay on as president," board member Jim Ott said. "This is not a popularity contest. It's really about who we think can be president during this time that can do the best job right now. We have many issues, including the transition and the budget."
Added board member Pat Kernan: "I think it's important right now as we are going through a superintendent search that we have some consistency," he said. "Chris has done a good job. I just don't think Valerie is ready in my opinion, but I would definitely support her for board clerk."
Under questioning by other board members, Grant said he would be honored to serve a second term and that he would continue to make whatever time available that will be needed to participate in meetings about the 2010-11 budget in the coming months as well as for all meetings and discussions related to the search for a new superintendent.
"We are looking at a very difficult year ahead," Grant said. "We are going to face again a most difficult budgetary situation as well as the responsibility of introducing a new superintendent to the district. I'd be happy to have the opportunity to stay on as president one more year. I think I have the time and certainly the ability to do that."
In his motion to select Grant as board president again, Ott also recommended Arkin for the clerk's position, but she declined.
Kernan was chosen clerk, a position that usually leads to being named board president in the following year. That means that if Kernan, whose term expires this year, seeks re-election to the board and wins, it's likely that he would become president of the school board in 2011.