SAN MATEO -- City Councilman Joe Goethals had just begun to introduce the motion to appoint Larry Patterson as San Mateo's new city manager when deputy mayor Maureen Freschet jumped in, saying she'd already reserved the honor.
Goethals wound up seconding Freschet's motion Monday night as an ebullient council unanimously approved a five-year contract with the respected, long-serving public works director. Patterson beat out a national field of 50 candidates to replace Susan Loftus, who retired in November.
"You know you're in a good situation," Mayor Robert Ross said after the vote, "when people are fighting over the motion to appoint you."
Members of the council praised Patterson for his skills as a listener and consensus-builder, his sense of humor, and his strong grasp of the various issues confronting the city. He competed for the job with candidates from 18 states, including California.
Patterson was appointed interim city manager upon Loftus' retirement, having spent 13 years as the city's public works director. Before that he owned a consulting firm that specialized in transportation engineering.
The contract approved by the council Monday calls for Patterson to receive $240,000 in annual salary plus health and retirement benefits, along with a $50,000 term life insurance policy and a $375 monthly automobile allowance.
The new city manager will not be eligible for an unlimited sick leave payout, however. Some citizens and council members were outraged last month when it was revealed that Loftus cashed in 2,202 hours of unused sick time for $235,806 when she retired. That brought her total compensation in 2013 to $526,820.
Under his contract, Patterson is subject to the same sick leave policy as other employees, who may accrue up to 960 hours of unused sick time and cash in half of it upon leaving the city.