By Steven Tavares.
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.”
In most municipalities there exists an unspoken expectation that city council’s 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.
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.