Last week, City Councilman Andy Klein realized his boyhood dream of becoming mayor of San Carlos. He is just 29.
Klein said being two decades younger than anyone else on the City Council is a “double-edged sword.”
On the plus side, he believes that it takes a young person to realize that government can’t do things the way it’s done them before and expect different results.
“Every city council would benefit from having one young council member,” Klein said.
But youth also has its challenges.
When Klein was arrested last month on suspicion of drunken driving, just days after former mayor and his close friend Omar Ahmad died of a heart attack, a number of San Carlos residents called for Klein’s resignation.
“If I had been 50 or 60 years old, people would have said, ‘He probably went to dinner and had two glasses of wine and went home,’ but because I’m young, they assume I was out at the bars all night,” Klein said.
Klein ultimately was not charged with drunken driving after a test indicated that his blood-alcohol limit was slightly below the legal limit. When the district attorney dropped the charges, it cleared the path for Klein to become mayor. And following his brief stint since May 10 as acting mayor, the San Carlos council unanimously appointed him last week.
Councilman Matt Growcott initially opposed Klein’s nomination, but admits Klein has the stuff for the job.
“In terms of how he’s chaired meetings, he’s been fair and that’s your primary role as mayor,” Growcott conceded. “Another function is ceremonial, and I know he can handle himself in those situations as well.”
Scot Marsters, who spent two years on a general plan committee chaired by Klein, said the new mayor is as “qualified as anybody else.”
“He led the group extremely well, working towards building a consensus for a plan we’re going to have to live with for the next 20 years,” Marsters said.
Klein hopes to spend the remaining six months of Ahmad’s mayoral term finishing up his friend’s work.
“I really want to stick to his agenda,” he said. “The second thing I want to do is bring a lot more collegiality back to the City Council.”
His family moved to San Carlos when he was 1 year old. He attended Arundel Elementary, Central Middle and Claremont High School, where he befriended the woman he would later marry. After finishing college, Klein planned to live in Montana, but when his mother fell ill with cancer he stuck around to help take care of her.
At 25, Klein, an insurance agent, became chair of the General Plan Advisory Committee — the position that led to his unopposed 2009 City Council election.
His election tipped the scales in favor of hotly debated budget-saving measures like contracting city police services out to the San Mateo County Sheriff and outsourcing Fire Department management to Redwood City.
“There’s been a lot of fights the past year and a half over these changes, now it’s time to come together,” he said.
Post: San Carlos Mayor
Profession: Insurance agent
Education: Claremont High School, University of Montana