Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 8, 2010

Pat Burt named mayor, Sid Espinosa vice mayor

Elections held at a meeting laden with unanimity and goodwill

Pat Burt was elected mayor Monday night by a unanimous Palo Alto City Council at a packed meeting laden with goodwill and resolutions of appreciation — and some budgetary warnings.

Councilman Sid Espinosa was elected vice mayor, also unanimously, in front of a crowd of more than 200 spectators.

A standing-room-only crowd of residents and dignitaries attended Monday's ceremonial meeting to welcome new council members Karen Holman, Gail Price, Nancy Shepherd and Gregory Scharff. Councilman Larry Klein, who now has four more years of council experience than the other eight members combined, was sworn in for his fourth term on the city's policymaking body.

Both Burt and Espinosa received enthusiastic ovations from a crowd spilling out of the chambers and into the hallway. There were no other nominees for the council's two leadership positions.

Klein, who nominated Burt, praised his experience at running meetings as chair of council's Finance Committee, his upbringing in the Silicon Valley and his commitment to environmental leadership both on the council and in private life.

Espnosa's election to vice chair was equally predictable and uncontroversial. A two-year council member, Espinosa works as director of citizenship at Microsoft and has strong relationships closely with local business and environmental groups. Espinosa was also one of the leaders of the successful 2008 campaign to rebuilt local libraries.

Councilwoman Nancy Shepherd, who nominated Espinosa for vice mayor, cited Espinosa's chairmanship of the council's Policy and Service Committee in 2009 and said his election to vice mayor would be a perfect fit for him. Councilman Yiaway Yeh also praised Espinosa for his seamless integration into the Palo Alto community.

Both Burt and Espinosa spent the bulk of their speeches citing the challenges ahead, chief among which is the city's structural budget deficit and the inevitable service cuts the city will have to make in the coming year. Burt also praised Palo Alto for its environmental leadership and suggested that its status as a "green" leader could be the key to economic recovery.

Burt also said that as mayor he will seek to create an environment for "constructive dialogue" in which the public and the council both feel like they're being treated fairly.

"For me, I think the primary purpose of the mayor is to help enable the council as a whole and the community to move forward on its many challenges," Burt said.

The council was also joined by a variety of state dignitaries in praising outgoing council members Peter Drekmeier, Jack Morton, Yoriko Kishimoto and John Barton. Drekmeier was lauded for his leadership on environmental issues, while Kishimoto was praised for her involvement in local and regional transportation projects. Barton's resolution called him as a "champion of smart growth" and a "strong advocate for the underserved." Morton's singled out his passionate commitment to community service and "fiscal accountability."

— Gennady Sheyner

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