Almanac

News - March 12, 2014

Jim Dobbie resigns from Atherton council

by Renee Batti

Jim Dobbie, an Atherton City Council member for the last six years, has resigned from the council, only eight months before his term was to end. He is suffering from an as-yet undiagnosed health problem that has left him too frail to continue serving, according to his wife, Pat.

Mr. Dobbie, 83, submitted his resignation letter on March 4, citing personal reasons. Pat Dobbie said her husband has for the last few months battled a strange respiratory condition, and despite undergoing numerous tests by "outstanding" doctors, the cause remains a mystery.

"For the last three or four months, (the ailment) has been gathering speed," Ms. Dobbie said. Despite his declining health, he has attended most council meetings, although he missed the regular meeting of the council last month, she said.

The Dobbies, who have lived in Atherton for 20 years, are still "very hopeful" that he will recover from his illness, as he did early in his council tenure when he battled another serious health crisis, she said. "He's just very sorry to let his constituents down," she said.

The council will discuss how to proceed at its March 19 meeting, according to Mayor Cary Wiest. Options include appointing someone to fill the seat until December, when the post will be filled by a successful candidate in the November election.

Mayor Wiest noted that the council has many important matters before it — including passage of a budget for the next fiscal year, which was the subject of a public study session on March 5 at which Mr. Dobbie's resignation was announced. "We'll certainly miss him," Mr. Wiest said.

Mr. Dobbie served a four-year term on the town's Planning Commission before his 2008 election to a two-year council seat. He ran successfully for re-election in 2010.

He was a key player in the town's efforts to whittle down and ultimately eliminate a structural budgetary deficit. He served as mayor in 2011, when in an effort to reduce employee costs the town laid off a majority of its non-police staff members and hired private contractors to provide services.

On an often-divided council, Mr. Dobbie was considered part of the council majority when Kathy McKeithen, a three-term council member who didn't seek re-election in 2012, was part of the mix. Since Ms. McKeithen left the council, Mr. Dobbie and Councilman Bill Widmer have often cast the minority votes — most recently, opposing the size of the planned Little League grandstand, which the council majority approved to accommodate up to 200 people.

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