Palo Alto to elect new mayor tonight

Following council tradition, Vice Mayor Nancy Shepherd poised to claim top spot

After a brief holiday respite, Palo Alto council members will usher in 2014 tonight when they choose their leader for the coming year.

The election of mayor, a largely symbolic position that lasts one year, should be a anti-climactic affair, with outgoing Mayor Greg Scharff customarily passing the title to the 2013 vice mayor, Nancy Shepherd. After that, the City Council will proceed to the more intriguing task of choosing a vice mayor.

Though the mayor in Palo Alto doesn't have any extra legislative powers, the position isn't strictly ceremonial. The mayor chairs meetings and works with the city manager to set the council agenda. The mayor also presents the annual "State of the City" speech, which allows him or her to set the tone for the coming year.

Last year, Scharff used the platform to announce numerous initiatives that the council ultimately adopted, including a smoking ban at local parks, wireless Internet at local plazas and a major expansion of the public art program. His position as mayor also gave Scharff the power to realize the dream of millions of teenagers this year -- a chance to play basketball with NBA star and former Paly phenom Jeremy Lin. The two held a brief one-on-one scrimmage in September to break in the new basketball court at the Mitchell Park Library and Community Center.

Tonight, the council will pass a resolution expressing appreciation to Scharff for mounting a "spirited defense" against Lin, for chairing "efficient and productive meetings" and for his "outstanding leadership" on numerous council initiatives, including negotiations with the school district over the Cubberley Community Center lease; and the certification of the city's Housing Element.

In addition to the elections, the City Council is scheduled to hear a "Year in Review" presentation from City Manager James Keene. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 250 Hamilton Ave.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 6, 2014 at 10:17 am

None of the Above.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 6, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Will the year in review celebration include the great success of the unanimously-supported Measure D?

Or the breakthroughs in ugly architecture, the number of street intersections that made a grade of "F," the approval of huge numbers of gigantic over-code buildings with no place to park, and the progress in utter disregard for the Comprehensive Plan?

Other than those bullying residents, the Council had a great year.

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Posted by Supplicant
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 6, 2014 at 12:28 pm

I beg of the City Council, PLEASE do not choose someone who is in the pockets of the developers! Please do not choose someone who has conflicts of interest! Please do not choose someone from the wealthiest neighborhoods!

PLEASE DO choose someone honest! Most of all, please choose someone who has the interests of the residents in mind at all times!!!

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Posted by Fish rots from the head down
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 6, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Nancy Shepherd is a muddled thinker who doesn't realize the extreme mental contortions she goes to in order to justify whatever she wants (mostly in favor of developers) are perceived as dishonesty and arrogance.

Who will step up and recall these people!

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Posted by Supplicant
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 6, 2014 at 12:51 pm

[Post removed.]

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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 6, 2014 at 1:00 pm

A related link:
Web Link

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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 6, 2014 at 1:40 pm

This is a done deal, so there is no reason to spend a lot of time wringing our hands about the matter. The salient point is that the Mayor of Palo Alto is “selected”, not “elected”, and has very little power—per the Charter.

The problem, it seems to me, is that people in government are not very accountable, and more often than not, have no experience running, or even advising, larger organizations with large budgets. So, elected officials, often supported financially by special interests—such as employee labor unions—find themselves only looking out for the interests of their primary constituencies.

Nancy Shepherd received 6,455 votes, out of about 38,000 registered voters, when she was elected in 2009. For every one person who voted for the Mayor "Presumptive"—five people did not vote for her. So, while she may end up as Mayor due to the process put in place decades ago (and now long forgotten)—she becomes the figure head of the elected government by process--no more.

Unfortunately, Palo Alto is just too small to support an elected Mayor. Even if it were, the lack of accountability, and transparency, of the local government would create nothing more than a spawning pit for never ending favoritism (and ultimately corruption) from within the Mayor’s Office towards his/her supporters, and the special interest groups that seem to dominate the vision of the elected government these days.

As long as the Mayor gracefully accepts the constraints of the role—and does not try to project into the position more than is there, or “reach”--then this current system works.

It would work even better if each new Mayor would pledge his/her support for open government, the timely release of all government records/data, and a promise to support the Charter of the City of Palo Alto to the letter, rather than engage in the mindless rhetoric of “global government”.

As long as we recognize that the Mayor has a certain role, and does not speak in any meaningful way for the people of Palo Alto--we can live with Ms. Shepherd for the year. My suspicion, however, is that she will soon attempt to exceed the bounds of the Charter, requiring citizen "push back".

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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 6, 2014 at 3:09 pm

Did gennady write the headline associated with this article? Seems like over half the article is the usual gennady- generated praise and worship of mayor Greg. No mention of the supposed disconnect between the mayor and the voters-- instead some philosophical waxing about Greg's photo-op with Lin!!!!
How does gennady know that navy will be elected mayor? How does gennady know the council will pass a resolution praising Greg's tenure? How does gennady know what the resolution will say? Maybe there is a story there ( think brown act violations) but that kind of reporting is perhaps beyond the scope of gennadys expertise.
Perhaps gennady should consider a career in professional cheerleading instead of being a " reporter".

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Posted by Oh Well
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 6, 2014 at 7:11 pm

Only in Palo Alto would residents readily and ignorantly accept politicians self appointing one of their buddies as Mayor. Ignorance is indeed bliss! What a pity!

Like this comment
Posted by B of Clairveaux
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 7, 2014 at 1:29 pm

[Post removed.]

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Posted by homeowner
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 12, 2014 at 12:46 am

Nancy is competent, accountable, and trustable. Congratulations!

Like this comment
Posted by Bad to the Bone
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 12, 2014 at 4:08 pm

The decision they made was the worst possible. What the heck criteria did they use?

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

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