Palo Alto to select new mayor tonight

In his final year on council, Vice Mayor Greg Schmid could rise to leadership position

Palo Alto will have a new mayor tonight and, if tradition holds, the annual honor will go to a soft-spoken, data-hungry economist with a long record of skepticism and dissent when it comes to new developments.

Vice Mayor Greg Schmid, one of the leading slow-growth "residentialists" on the nine-member council, could shift to the center of the council's dais if the council upholds its long-standing practice of appointing last year's vice mayor as this year's mayor. The shift would be the latest sign of the ascendancy of slow-growth leaders on the council, who in 2014 scored an election victory and now hold the majority of council seats.

Schmid, who was elected in 2007 and is now in his final year, subscribed to this philosophy well before it became the rule of the day, having spent most of his first term casting votes against new developments and questioning assumptions about the traffic problems they could cause. Schmid was re-elected to a second term in 2012, the council's first even-year election. In 2015, he narrowly beat out Councilman Pat Burt for the vice mayor's seat. He was also appointed by Mayor Karen Holman to chair the council's Finance Committee.

Tonight, in the council's first meeting of the new year, he could take over as mayor -- a position that is often referred to as symbolic but that nevertheless comes with some powers. These include the purview to shape the agenda, run meetings and make appointments to council committees.

His election is not, however, a foregone conclusion. Last year, the council broke with precedent when it unanimously selected Karen Holman as its 2015 mayor, even though Councilwoman Liz Kniss had served as the vice mayor in 2014. Kniss, who is not affiliated with the slow-growth faction, nominated Holman for the position after Holman earned the most votes in the 2014 council election.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers at 250 Hamilton Ave. and will conclude with a special resolution of appreciation for Holman.

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51 people like this
Posted by anne
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 4, 2016 at 10:47 am

I hope they do elect Schmid. He has long been the smartest guy in the room (even among some pretty smart councilmembers now), yet is unerringly humble, and has a deep love for Palo Alto, a better command of our history than most, and strong ethical compass. He never loses his cool yet is capable of showing backbone when everyone else is on a bandwagon in the wrong direction.

Plus he's a really intelligent speaker. All the best!

33 people like this
Posted by Belle
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 4, 2016 at 10:54 am

Congratulations to Mayor Holman who has done an exceptional job as a leader. Given how some in the community wrongly assumed that the world would end with the election of a majority to council who would respect the views and interests of residents, this council must have surprised them. It proves that corporate greed and development interests don't have to always come first to have a healthy community that thrives.
Thank you for the office cap (now make it and retail protection stronger) which will ease the housing pressure.
Keep up the good work - may residential interests be the guiding star in 2016 and beyond.

36 people like this
Posted by ItsTimeforGreg
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 4, 2016 at 11:55 am

Greg has really served Palo Alto well, first on the school board and now entering his eight year on council. He deserves to become Mayor. It's time to get back to an orderly progression and some consistency with the Vice Mayor moving up.

While each council member has different strengths, Greg brings a lot to the job. His focus on making decisions based on data is needed and he seems to work well with others (while some council members do not).

His PhD from Columbia in Economics and work with the the Federal Reserve bring a great viewpoint we can use in the Mayor seat. I hope our council members can do the right thing and put personal ambition aside to allow each council member a year as Mayor. We need to get back to the idea that the Mayor is largely one member of a group of equals. Greg will be that kind of mayor and won't abuse the office as more aggressive mayors have done in years past.

17 people like this
Posted by Larry Alton
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 4, 2016 at 2:03 pm

We need a mayor who is responsive to our residents. Greg is our man.

13 people like this
Posted by Cheryl Lilienstein
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 4, 2016 at 2:08 pm

Thanks to Karen Holman for her dedication and skillful management of the city council.

I hope the city council shows the wisdom to elect Greg Schmid mayor: his knowledge of the city, his years of experience and commitment to using multivariable data for decision-making would be so helpful for setting Palo Alto in a good direction.

I have always appreciated how Greg Schmid finds a way to prioritize the needs of residents, and holds a deep respect for democracy.

9 people like this
Posted by Nancy Levy
a resident of University South
on Jan 4, 2016 at 2:23 pm

While I don't agree with Greg on many issues, he is honorable, honest and humble and totally deserves to be mayor. He has served Palo Alto in several different capacities and has always been a dedicated public servant. Palo Alto is lucky to have someone of his caliber on our council.

28 people like this
Posted by Greg Schmid
a resident of another community
on Jan 4, 2016 at 4:58 pm

Thanks so much for all your great comments, I am so inspired by each and every one of you and the whole Palo Alto community. I really hope to become the mayor and serve you as best I can.

Thanks again,

2 people like this
Posted by Lavender
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 4, 2016 at 7:58 pm

Pat Burt was elected Mayor with Greg Scharff as Vice Mayor.

17 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 4, 2016 at 8:06 pm

Greg Schmid is by far the most respected person on that dias. Not sure what to make of the outcome. Hard to see how the horse trading was done within Brown Act.

12 people like this
Posted by The Empire Strikes Back
a resident of University South
on Jan 4, 2016 at 8:31 pm

Finis A New Hope for the Residentialists.

18 people like this
Posted by bad news
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 4, 2016 at 8:32 pm

I guess with Pat Burt at the helm we can anticipate more high-density development. Very sad.

2 people like this
Posted by Again
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 4, 2016 at 11:49 pm


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