As Assistant Town Manager Arn Andrews arrived at the grand re-opening for the Los Gatos Theatre, Thursday, it marked the end for the long and careful journey of bringing one of the community’s most valued cultural assets back to life.
But it also served to bookend his own five-year tenure with the Town, since the City of Mountain View had announced they’d poached the well-liked public official just two days earlier.
“Professionally and personally, it’s going to be an interesting new adventure,” Andrews said in an interview Tuesday, expressing his eagerness to get right into a batch of new work. “They run their own utilities, so one of the things I’ll be working on is getting a new utility billing system in place.”
But his lateral career move came as Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Catherine Somers revealed she’ll be leaving her role, in part due to frustrations with push-back from the Town.
Andrews was a familiar face at community events, from the Thursday Promenades to community disaster preparedness drills.
He was often commended during Council meetings for giving thorough updates and nimbleness in responding to questions from elected officials.
Andrews had a maximum salary this year of $234,355 here. He was hired away to his new Assistant Town Manager gig at a starting rate of $306,000.
But Andrews says he didn’t make his decision based on the money.
He says he’s thrilled to get to work on a new array of projects, such as a new technology masterplan and on a large Google development underway in the North Bayshore area.
Andrews spent 15 years as an equity options trader on Wall Street before switching coasts.
“I moved to California in 2007 to take my first public sector job with the City of San Jose,” he said, noting he was primarily focused there on matters of the purse as Assistant Finance Director and Chief Investment Officer. “Very soon after that, municipalities had to weather the 2008 downturn.”
‘We’re absolutely gutted to hear the news of Arn Andrews’ resignation’—Catherine Somers, Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce executive director
He says that experience—and his early days at the American Stock Exchange following the Black Monday crash of 1987—will guide his hand at his new municipal home in the face of a tech pullback and a possible recession.
“I saw lots of financial dislocation over the course of my career,” he said, adding his time here will inform his contributions to charting Mountain View’s course. “In Los Gatos I got to work on two successful revenue measures.”
Andrews says he appreciated the opportunity to expand his public service skill set while working in Los Gatos, as he branched out into land use and managing the process to convince the Goetz family the Town would be a good steward of their theater.
The Chamber’s Somers told the Los Gatan that Andrews played a critical role in keeping the community vibrant during the darkest days of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Here at the Chamber, we’re absolutely gutted to hear the news of Arn Andrews’ resignation,” she said. “He was such an inspiration—a financial pragmatist, very accessible—and he knew how to compromise and navigate the competing special interests.”
Andrews was the Town staffer best known for dining at local restaurants, strolling the streets and attending Chamber events, according to Somers.
“His heart was in it,” she said, lamenting his departure. “I mean it’s terrible. I don’t know what we’re going to do without him.”
Somers said she wonders whether Andrews might be leaving due to leadership problems at the Town, noting several directors already left in recent months.
And she recently announced she’ll be stepping down from her post at the Chamber because she’s tired of fighting with the Town. Their current spat is over the storage of Christmas decorations.
“It’s been seven awesome years,” Somers said. “But it gets a little harder with every turn or every attempt at making this town better…you’re just slammed or challenged with one restriction or another as set forth by the Town.”
She has particularly fond memories of the “WE GOT THIS LG!” poster campaign the Chamber ran in the early days of the novel coronavirus to lift people’s spirits.
“It’s the font of ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ (classic posters),” she said, noting the green background was meant to instill a sense of calm in a time of turmoil. “It’s funny, because it totally worked.”
Somers is anticipating her future will involve backpacking and relaxing at a guest ranch in Wyoming she’s trying to buy.
She says it’ll be nice to take a break from the challenges of leading the local business community, particularly given the obstacles put in her way by the local administration.
“When there’s so little collaboration, it gets kind of tiring,” she said. “I really try hard to be a really positive person. But I can feel sometimes a little negativity creeping in—and a little bitterness. And I think it’s just probably best for the Chamber and Los Gatos to have fresh eyes and a fresh perspective.”
Andrews always went to bat for local merchants and nonprofits, Somers recalled.
When asked if leadership challenges played a role in his decision to leave the Town, Andrews was quick to pour cold water on the idea.
“Turnover is a natural part of every industry,” he said. “It’s bittersweet saying goodbye to Los Gatos.”