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Cary Keaten is Lathrops new city manager
Newly appointed Lathrop city manager Cary Keaten looking somber-faced during budget and employee layoff deliberations last week. At left is Councilman Chris Mateo in casual attire. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO
LATHROP – The City of Lathrop hired a new city manager and saved $25,000 at the same time.

Cary Keaten, who was acting then interim city manager for the last eight months, was named city manager by the City Council at the closed session held following the regular meeting Tuesday night. He takes over the helm vacated by the resignation of former city manager Yvonne Quiring a few days before the presidential and mayoral elections in November.

Council member Sonny Dhaliwal said the vote in favor of giving the top administrative position to Keaten was unanimous.

“He’s fully qualified. He’s the type of person that we need. He’s experienced and has good leadership. He knows the city inside out. He knows the challenges that we’re facing and he knows the solutions. And he’s very well respected by the council and by the staff. And he’s a nice person. He’s going to be a very good city manager for years to come,” Dhaliwal said.

Unbeknownst perhaps to Keaten, Dhaliwal said, “We’ve been watching him for the last eight months and we liked what we saw.”

The five-member council vote in Keaten’s favor included Councilman Robert Oliver who has been participating in the last three council meetings via telephone conference call. Oliver is currently recuperating from surgery in Ventura, Calif.

Not only did the city save the consultant’s fee that has been budgeted to hire an official head hunter to gather qualified applicants for the city manager’s position; no salary modification was made in promoting Keaten. Dhaliwal said the new city manager will be drawing the same salary that he had as interim city manager.

“He said that he’s happy with the same salary, and he realizes that the times are tough. That speaks volumes,” Dhaliwal said of Keaten’s statement about his job compensation.

While it was good that the city saved $25,000 in consultants’ fees, especially now “when we’re trying to save as much money as we can,” Dhaliwal said that was not the main reason behind the council’s decision to appoint Keaten.

“Why look elsewhere when we already have an excellent employee here?” he said.
River Islands project Manager Susan Dell’Osso commended the council for their action in appointing a new city manager. At the same time, she expressed hope that this latest chapter at City Hall will be a step for a better and stronger community.

“I think Cary is a great guy. He will lend stability to the city. He is very familiar with all the city’s infrastructure issues and financial infrastructure because he’s been around for so long. I’m pretty pleased that he’s going to be sticking around for a while,” Dell’Osso said.

“There’s so much tension and so much turmoil (in the city) and he understands it. It’s time to heal and move forward,” said Dell’Osso who, at the same time, expressed the hope that Keaten will work to have the city go back to the open dialogues that the development community and the city had during the time former mayors Steve McKee and Gloryanna Rhodes were in office.

Keaten was hired in 2002 as Lathrop’s Public Works director. Before that, he was the deputy director of Public Works for the City of Morgan Hill in the Bay Area.

In 2007, Keaten was appointed assistant city manager to former city manager Yvonne Quiring. After Quiring’s departure, he was made acting city manager and, shortly thereafter, interim city manager.

In addition to being an avid outdoorsman – a rock climber, he has scaled the face of El Capitan at Yosemite National Park, among other challenges – he is also a writer. He holds a degree in civil engineering from the University of Wyoming.