News

Sid Espinosa takes over as mayor in Palo Alto

City Council unanimously elects Espinosa mayor, Yiaway Yeh vice mayor

Sid Espinosa, a soft-spoken high-tech executive whose career included stints at the U.S. Justice Department and Hewlett-Packard, became the fourth youngest mayor in Palo Alto's history Tuesday night.

Espinosa, 38, was unanimously elected by his colleagues on the City Council to the largely ceremonial role in front of an enthusiastic City Hall audience. Minutes later, the council unanimously elected its youngest member, 32-year-old Yiaway Yeh, as the city's vice mayor.

Espinosa's election was largely a foregone conclusion given that he served as vice mayor in 2010. But he appeared humbled by the words of praise his colleagues lavished on him in nominating him.

"I think Sid would be one of the more distinguished people we've ever had on the job," said Councilman Larry Klein, a former mayor, who nominated Espinosa.

Klein highlighted Espinosa's long list of achievements, including his service as a trustee at his alma mater, Wesleyan University, his graduation from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, his time as a personal aide to former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, his job as a director of philanthropy at Hewlett-Packard and his current role as director of citizenship at Microsoft.

Klein also praised Espinosa's service on the council, to which he was elected in 2007. This included his service last year on the Finance Committee, which had to grapple with two multi-million dollar budget deficits.

"He's always confounded people. He takes a very independent look at issues and speaks very eloquently on what his position is and why we should join him," Klein said.

After hearing Klein recite a catalogue of Espinosa's qualifications, Councilman Greg Scharff added another.

"He's truly a nice guy," said Scharff, who served with Espinosa on the council's Finance Committee. "He's the kind of guy you want to sit here with."

Espinosa, who took over the mayor's position from Pat Burt, thanked his colleagues for their support and highlighted the challenges and the opportunities facing the city in the year ahead. The council also passed a resolution of appreciation for Burt, with several members thanking him for his leadership throughout 2010.

Espinosa said that he has "very, very large shoes to fill."

"I will work as hard as I can to be a good mayor and I look forward to engagement with the broader community," Espinosa said.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 5, 2011 at 7:36 am

Hooray.

Now, Sid, please lower taxes, cajole big, fast-growing companies to move to or stay in Palo Alto, put the fear of PA cops back into criminals, and most importantly, free PA from the grievous clutches of the liberal wealthy class that has overrun it.


Like this comment
Posted by J
a resident of Southgate
on Jan 5, 2011 at 8:05 am

Sid, Take back our park's from out of towner's on the weekends!!

We can't even enjoy our own city park's on our timeoff... They take over our benches, our pools, our playgrounds.


Like this comment
Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 5, 2011 at 8:08 am

@J: as someone who grew up in Palo Alto, I can say without question that Palo Altans stopped using the parks long before out-of-towners became the primary users of our parks.


Like this comment
Posted by No change
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 5, 2011 at 8:57 am

Another new year, another new mayor. Another set of "promises" and "goals". Another year of our council focusing on their pet projects and pie in the sky ideas and another year of our infrastructure continuing to crumble, while our "leaders" kowtow to "neighborhood leaders", "NIMBYists", the vocal minority and the city elite. Nothing will ever change.


Like this comment
Posted by More-of-the-Same
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2011 at 9:37 am

Yawn ...


Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 5, 2011 at 11:29 am

> Klein highlighted Espinosa's long list of achievements,
> including his service as a trustee at his alma mater,
> Wesleyan University, his graduation from Harvard University's
> Kennedy School of Government, his time as a personal aide to
> former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, his job as a director
> of philanthropy at Hewlett-Packard and his current role as
> director of citizenship at Microsoft.

What does any of this have to do with the administration of a municipal corporation, like the City of Palo Alto? Has Espinoza ever had to "balance a budget"? Has he ever had to say "NO" to extortionate labor union demands? Has he ever actually done anything but wear a three-piece suit and "play the part"?


Like this comment
Posted by No change
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 5, 2011 at 11:32 am

our city has a tendency to confuse occupying a position with actually achieving something in that position. That is why they are constantly issuing proclamations thanking people for their service/achievements when they were actually just keeping a chair warm.


Like this comment
Posted by George
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 5, 2011 at 11:45 am

I have met and talked with Sid several times. He is an intelligent, articulate gentleman who listens and thinks clearly. I know he will do a good job - witness his efforts on the finance committee when it had to wrestle with two tough budget balancing years.

Good luck, Sid.


Like this comment
Posted by George
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 5, 2011 at 11:46 am

I have met and talked with Sid several times. He is an intelligent, articulate gentleman who listens and thinks clearly. I know he will do a good job - witness his efforts on the finance committee when it had to wrestle with two tough budget balancing years.

Good luck, Sid.


Like this comment
Posted by Timothy Gray
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 5, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Correction: Gregg Scharff said Sid is "someone you would want to sit down AND HAVE A BEER with." Minor point, but I have to give credit to the weekly for its ongoing efforts to sanitize the news.

Sid is a great guy and I too have high hopes for some real infrastructure changes in our City in the new year. There are a couple clouds over this leadership change that we will have to watch with an open mind:

1.) Both Sid and Yiaway had their campaigns funded by the City Union (aka South Bay Labor Council), and so their independence on labor issues needs to be watched carfully.

2.) On an important labor vote, Sid was a no-show at the council meeting for obvious reasons, and Yiaway (to his credit) showed up to cast the lone vote in support of the SEIU labor position. The others stood behind Mayor Pat Burt in his noble efforts to restore some rationale to the benefits structure in the labor Union contract negotiation.

Voters, while we stand in support of our new leaders, please keep your eyes open for waivers in this area. We might expect to see proposals like limiting City vendors to "Prevailing Wage" contractors as early indicators of Union paybacks. (For those who haven't followed the Labor agenda, Prevailing Wage law have nothing to do with "fair wages" but feed into a statuatory formula that creates an upward spiral--inflationary pressure on municipal projects, and is a mantipulation to concentrate Union power for the few. This can play out in Yiaway's leadership in the Utilities area.)

Also, we will see who is open to the ongoing practice of the City to raid the Utilities (at the cost of utility rate payers) with the thinly disguised "transfer" costs and "shared" costs.

Much work is needed, and Sid and Yiaway have the ability to really move the City in a positive direction.

Just remember, the entire City operations are smaller than most of the companies residents work for, and there is plenty of backup executive talent in this town if things go in the wrong direction. We just need to watch the chicken coop to make sure there isn't a fox disguised as rooster or hen.

With that caution, let the hard work begin. It is appreciated, however we are watching.

Sincerely,

Tim Gray


Like this comment
Posted by Sherry
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 5, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Sid & Yiaway are the best duo and the most civic minded on the entire council.
No personal agenda but good old fashioned public service.

The problem with the structure of this city is that the Mayor is simply a ceremonial role within the confinements of 365 days. Regrettably real policy comes down from the City Manager's office.


Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 5, 2011 at 12:35 pm

> 1.) Both Sid and Yiaway had their campaigns funded by the
> City Union (aka South Bay Labor Council), and so their independence
> on labor issues needs to be watched carfully.

While there may have been some money from the SBLC, the real question is "how much"? The labor unions are often "late filers", and so their money doesn't show up until after the campaigns are over.

Espinosa was a virtual unknown in the city prior to his appearing to advocate for money for the Arts Center. Before that .. not much of a paper trail. Then, once he had announced his candidacy, he receives over $40,000 in campaign contributions from a number of non-residents, but mostly Palo Altans with deep pockets. Espinoza left virtually no paper trail during his campaign, and has not been quoted all that much in the local papers--so, what makes him "the best man for the job"?
There is little on the table to know if there is any "there there"?

Yiaway Yeh at one point had about 75%-80% of his contributions form outside of Palo Alto. How much of that money was effectively being "laundered" from labor union sources is impossible to tell, since "private citizens" can donate to City Council campaigns, just like companies can. Yeh's only connection to Palo Alto in his campaign literature was that he was a "Gunn High graduate".

Neither of these two have done any grass roots political work in Palo Alto--and it's hard not to see their being on the Council as little more than "stepping stones" in their political careers.




Like this comment
Posted by We're here South PA
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2011 at 3:27 pm

I wonder if Sid will pay some attention to south Palo Alto in particular the huge bumps along San Antonio Road and the overhanging trees.

Unfortunately our City pays too much attention to north Palo Alto streets in particular Stanford Avenue and El Camino and California Avenue.

Please repair San Antonio Road so the trucks can use it instead of turning down East Charleston and using other south Palo Alto streets.


Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 5, 2011 at 5:13 pm

What do you suppose the Director of Citizenship at Microsoft does?


Like this comment
Posted by who cares
a resident of Triple El
on Jan 5, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Hopefully he won't cowtow to Klein like some recent mayors and city manager. To long winded posters, nobody in government really reads what you write.


Like this comment
Posted by Bright Side
a resident of another community
on Jan 6, 2011 at 9:42 am

Let's make 2011 the year of no scandals, no controversies, and no "hot button" issues involving the City of Palo Alto!


Like this comment
Posted by JacoP
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 6, 2011 at 10:30 am

@Southgate

What maybe we should just build a giant wall surrounding our town and never let anybody in to spend money at our businesses? Sound like a good idea to you?


Like this comment
Posted by Rachel
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 10, 2011 at 7:11 am

@John
The Director of Corporate Citizenship at Microsoft encourages and implements community engagement, volunteerism and giving at the corporation and among its employees.

@Bob
I met Espinosa at a tiny neighborhood coffee (about 6 people in attendance) when he was campaigning. He spent hours listening to us and sharing ideas and has continued to do so since he was elected. If that's not grassroots I don't know what is. But, as a PhD candidate studying social movements, the most effective work of grassroots organizing isn't done by politicians but by citizens who pressure them to make changes. So here's to citizens making their voices heard.

Thanks for your hard work Sid. Good luck!


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

He said – she said – who is lying? Justice Brett Kavanaugh or PA resident Christine Ford
By Diana Diamond | 69 comments | 5,756 views

Let's Talk Internships
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 863 views

Couples: Sex and Connection (Chicken or Egg?)
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 651 views

Zucchini Takeover
By Laura Stec | 1 comment | 602 views