Code of Ethics & Conduct

I. Preamble

It is the intent of this Code of Ethics and Conduct (the "Code") to achieve fair, ethical, and accountable local government for the Town of Woodside. The people of Woodside expect public officials, both elected and appointed, to comply with both the letter and the spirit of the laws of the State of California, the United States of America, the Town of Woodside Municipal Code and General Plan, and the laws and established policies of the Town of Woodside affecting the operations of local government. In addition, public officials are expected to comply with the provisions of this Code. All persons covered by this Code will aspire to meet the highest ethical standards in the conduct of their responsibility as an elected or appointed official of the Town of Woodside.

This Code addresses various aspects related to the governance of the Town of Woodside and supplements but does not supplant other laws and rules that prescribe the legal responsibilities of Town officials. These include, but are not limited to, the Federal and State Constitutions, various provisions of the California Government Code (such as the Brown Act and the Political Reform Act), the Labor Code, laws prohibiting discrimination and harassment, and the Town of Woodside Municipal Code. Elected and appointed officials are expected to be familiar with these laws to ensure that they exercise their public responsibilities in a proper fashion. This Code is not designed to be used as a tool to remove appointed officials, as the Town Council retains the right under the Municipal Code to remove appointed officials in accordance with those provisions.

While it is not possible to anticipate and provide a rule of conduct and ethics for all situations that public officials may face, this Code is designed to provide a framework to guide public officials in their daily duties.

II.

The provisions of this Code shall apply to the Mayor and members of the Town Council, and to all members of the boards, commissions, and committees appointed by the Town Council or the Mayor or the Mayor and Town Council, including any ad hoc committees. Further, the provisions of this Code shall only apply to these officials and members acting in their official capacities and in the discharge of their duties.

The Town values participation from all of its residents, and therefore, residents who do business with the Town are not precluded from seeking election to the Town Council or from seeking appointment to the Planning Commission, Architectural and Site Review Board, or Citizen Advisory Committees. Members of the Town Council who do business in the Town are not required to recuse themselves when voting to appoint members of the Planning Commission, Architectural and Site Review Board, or Citizen Advisory Committees.

III. Core Values

Attitudes, words, and actions should demonstrate, support, and reflect the following qualities and characteristics for the well-being of our community. The five core values and expressions that reflect these core values are as follows:

Integrity / Honesty

  • I am honest with my fellow elected officials, the public and others.
  • I do not promise what I believe to be unrealistic.
  • I am prepared to make unpopular decisions when my sense of the public's best interests requires it.
  • I credit others' contributions to moving our community's interests forward.
  • I do not knowingly use false or inaccurate information to support my position or views.
  • I safeguard the ability to make independent, objective, fair and impartial judgments by scrupulously avoiding financial and social relationships and transactions that may compromise, or give the appearance of compromising, objectivity, independence, and honesty.

Responsibility / Protecting the Public's Interests

  • I do not accept gifts, services, or other special considerations because of my public position.
  • I excuse myself from participating in decisions when my or my immediate family's financial interests may be affected by my agency's actions.
  • I disclose any personal or financial interest which may be affected by my agency's actions even though it would not require a recusal from hearing or deciding an issue, or considering and enacting an ordinance, or considering an appointment to a commission, board, or committee.
  • I disclose whether a policy under discussion may affect a current or pending client of mine.
  • I do not give special treatment or consideration to any individual or group beyond that available to any other individual.
  • I refrain from disclosing confidential information concerning litigation, personnel, property, or other affairs of the Town, without proper legal authority, nor use such information to advance my financial or other personal interests.

Fairness / Accountability

  • I promote meaningful public involvement in the agency's decision-making processes.
  • I treat all persons, claims, and transactions in a fair and equitable manner; I make decisions based on the merits of the issue.
  • If I receive substantive information from sources outside the public decision-making process that is relevant to a matter under consideration, I publicly share it with my fellow governing board members and staff.
  • I work to contribute to a strong organization that exemplifies transparency and open communication.

Respect for Fellow Elected or Appointed Officials, Staff & the Public

  • I treat my fellow officials, staff and the public with patience, courtesy, and civility, even when we disagree on what is best for the community; I strive to resolve disagreements amicably.
  • I work toward consensus building and gain value from diverse opinions.
  • I respect the distinction between the role of office holder and staff; I involve staff in meetings with individuals, those with business before the agency, officials from other agencies, and legislators to ensure proper staff support and to keep staff informed.
  • I conduct myself in a courteous and respectful manner at all times during the performance of my official Town duties.
  • I encourage full participation of all persons and groups; I acknowledge important celebrations and events which reflect the values of our diverse population.

Proper & Efficient Use of Public Resources

  • I do not use public resources, such as agency staff time, equipment, supplies or facilities, for private gain or personal purposes.
  • I make decisions after prudent consideration of their financial impact, taking into account the long-term financial needs of the agency, especially its financial stability.
  • I demonstrate concern for the proper use of agency assets (such as personnel, time, property, equipment, funds) and follow established procedures.
  • I am a prudent steward of public resources and actively consider the impact of my decisions on the financial and social stability of the Town and its residents.

IV. Implementation and Enforcement

Town of Woodside elected and appointed officials of the various boards, commissions and committees have the primary responsibility to assure that ethical standards are understood and met, and that the public can continue to have full confidence in the integrity of government. This Code will be most effective when the elected and appointed officials are thoroughly familiar with it and embrace its provisions.

Upon adoption of this Code, all current elected or appointed officials shall be given a copy of the Code of Ethics and Conduct and asked to understand its provisions, and pledge to conduct themselves by it. All new members of the Town Council, upon election or reelection, and members of boards, commissions, and committees appointed by the Mayor or the Town Council, upon appointment or reappointment, shall be given a copy of this Code and are required to understand its provisions, and pledge to conduct themselves by it. Additionally, all members of the Town Council, boards, commissions, and committees, as part of their AB1234 training, shall be provided additional training clarifying the provisions and application of this Code. The Town Attorney, or his/her designee, shall serve as a resource person to those persons covered by the Code to assist them in determination of appropriate actions consistent with the Code.

Complaints of possible violations of this Code of Conduct and Ethics should be submitted to the Town Manager. The Town Manager will take steps to determine the validity of the complaint including speaking to the parties. If the complaint can be resolved to the satisfaction of the parties, the Town Manager should effect such a solution. If the complaint cannot be informally resolved, the Town Manager will determine the appropriate action. Actions may include taking no further action, consulting with the Town Attorney, consulting with the Mayor, referring the matter to the Town Council for action, or referring any serious alleged violation of law to the appropriate enforcement authority.

If the complaint is about a member of the Town Council, the complaint should be submitted to the Mayor. If the complaint is about the Mayor, the complaint should be submitted to the Mayor Pro Tempore. The Mayor or Mayor Pro Tempore will take steps to determine the validity of the complaint including speaking to the parties. If the complaint can be resolved to the satisfaction of the parties, the Mayor or Mayor Pro Tempore should effect such a solution. If the complaint cannot be informally resolved, the Mayor or Mayor Pro Tempore will determine the appropriate action. Actions may include taking no further action, consulting with the Town Attorney, referring the matter to the Town Council for action, or referring any serious alleged violation of law to the appropriate enforcement authority.

A periodic review of the Code shall be conducted to ensure that the Code is an effective and vital document.

This Code of Conduct and Ethics is intended to be a reflection of the community's values as articulated by the Mayor and Town Council as they represent the will of the people of the Town of Woodside.

Adopted by the Town Council, October 9, 2018