News

DuBois and Burt tapped to lead Palo Alto as mayor, vice mayor

Council's picks reflect new political dynamics after residentialists' Election Day success

Palo Alto City Council members Tom DuBois, left, and Pat Burt, right, were voted to serve as this year's mayor and vice mayor, respectively, on Jan. 4. Embarcadero Media file photos.

Tom DuBois, a steadfast member of the Palo Alto City Council's "residentialist" majority, and Pat Burt, a political veteran coming off an emphatic election win, will lead the council this year as mayor and vice mayor, respectively.

In a ceremonial meeting that reflected the council's shifting power dynamics in the aftermath of the November election, the council unanimously selected DuBois to be its mayor for the coming year. The result was largely preordained, given the council's long-established practice of elevating the prior year's vice mayor to the mayoral chair.

Burt's election, by contrast, followed one of the most competitive races for the vice mayor position in recent years. A political centrist who received the most votes in the November election, the former two-time mayor edged out council members Alison Cormack and Lydia Kou after two rounds of voting.

Ultimately, Burt's nomination advanced by a 4-3 vote, with Burt joining DuBois and council members Eric Filseth and Greer Stone. The swing vote was Filseth, who had nominated Cormack for vice mayor and who supported her candidacy in the first round of the vote. After none of the three candidates received the needed four votes, Filseth threw his vote to Burt, giving him the victory.

Council members Greg Tanaka and Lydia Kou voted for Kou in both rounds, while Filseth and Cormack had each supported Cormack's nomination in the first round of the vote.

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When the dust settled, the council's leadership roughly reflected the election results. The council's residentialist camp, which scored a big victory in November with the election of Stone and the reelection of Lydia Kou, will see one of its members return to the central chair (or, as the case may be, the central Zoom screen). Burt, the top vote-getter in November, now holds the council's second leadership position and has a clear path to a third mayoral term in 2022.

DuBois was first elected to the council in 2014 and reelected in 2018. A former neighborhood activist, he became steeped in City Hall politics in 2013, when he was part of a group of residents who worked to overturn the council's approval of a housing development on Maybell Avenue, which included 60 units for low-income seniors and 12 single-family homes. After a successful referendum that year, he joined the council the following year as part of a wave of slow-growth candidates.

Over his six years on the council, DuBois has supported adopting stronger renter-protection laws, charging developers higher fees to support affordable housing, starting a business tax and creating a "safe parking" program for individuals who live in vehicles. He has chaired the council's Finance Committee, the Policy and Services Committee and Rail Committee and has been involved in a regional effort to expand the use of recycled water.

In nominating DuBois, Filseth lauded his track record of advocating for local control and transparency, as well as his spirit of collaboration.

"Tom is no stranger to advocacy, but one of the differences between being a council member and being a mayor is that as mayor you have a much greater responsibility on how to get the most out of the council as a group," Filseth said. "It's a bit of shift because it becomes less about your own passions and more about how to support and facilitate everybody else's passions, including those who you might not completely agree with."

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DuBois will take leadership of the council just as his political camp is picking up a clear council majority. The election of Stone, who has campaigned with the residentialists, and Burt, traditionally a political centrist, means that his side will have at least four — and often five — votes on politically thorny issues such as retail-protection laws, development-impact fees and commission appointments.

After getting the nomination, DuBois said he was "committed this year to getting us working well together and functioning as a high-performing council." He also acknowledged the political shift and called the current council "the biggest pro-resident majority on the council in the history of Palo Alto."

"What I mean by that is that we're not dominated by influence of big business and development interests," DuBois said. "Given the amount of money that it took to win in our last election, I think that was really an amazing accomplishment."

He highlighted three priorities for the coming year: moving ahead with a business tax, planning for the redesign of the city's rail crossings, and finding ways to encourage the development of more affordable housing.

"I expect we'll need to consider changing some of our current zoning to enable more housing production," DuBois.

As usual, the contest for the vice mayor supplied all the drama on what was otherwise a ceremonial meeting filled with oaths, plaudits and resolutions. DuBois started the process by nominating Burt. Tanaka, who generally votes with the council's pro-growth camp, reached across the political aisle and nominated Kou, a staunch residentialist who shares his propensity for challenging staff recommendations and casting dissenting votes.

Filseth also looked past the council's usual political alignment and supported Cormack, the top vote-getter in the 2018 election. He reminded the council of the 2020 vice mayoral contest, where Cormack and DuBois were deadlocked with three votes each. Cormack broke the stalemate by giving DuBois her vote, making him the vice mayor (and, as of this week, mayor).

"The willingness to put the good of the community first, no matter what our own personal goals and objective are, is just so fundamental to this service," Filseth said.

But DuBois and Stone both advocated for Burt and pointed to his record of service as a council member between 2008 and 2016 and as a member of the Planning and Transportation Commission before that. Each argued that the city would benefit from Burt's experience in the coming year, as it continues to respond to the devastating health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Burt said he looks forward to working with the rest of the council to find a balanced approach to addressing this fallout from the pandemic.

"I feel capable to be able to help Mayor DuBois and city staff work through these challenges, to adjust our city budget, to really respond to the needs of the community that we have — that are really more people-oriented than ever before — and certain exceptional needs that have emerged from this crisis that didn't even exist beforehand," Burt said.

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DuBois and Burt tapped to lead Palo Alto as mayor, vice mayor

Council's picks reflect new political dynamics after residentialists' Election Day success

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, Jan 4, 2021, 8:50 pm

Tom DuBois, a steadfast member of the Palo Alto City Council's "residentialist" majority, and Pat Burt, a political veteran coming off an emphatic election win, will lead the council this year as mayor and vice mayor, respectively.

In a ceremonial meeting that reflected the council's shifting power dynamics in the aftermath of the November election, the council unanimously selected DuBois to be its mayor for the coming year. The result was largely preordained, given the council's long-established practice of elevating the prior year's vice mayor to the mayoral chair.

Burt's election, by contrast, followed one of the most competitive races for the vice mayor position in recent years. A political centrist who received the most votes in the November election, the former two-time mayor edged out council members Alison Cormack and Lydia Kou after two rounds of voting.

Ultimately, Burt's nomination advanced by a 4-3 vote, with Burt joining DuBois and council members Eric Filseth and Greer Stone. The swing vote was Filseth, who had nominated Cormack for vice mayor and who supported her candidacy in the first round of the vote. After none of the three candidates received the needed four votes, Filseth threw his vote to Burt, giving him the victory.

Council members Greg Tanaka and Lydia Kou voted for Kou in both rounds, while Filseth and Cormack had each supported Cormack's nomination in the first round of the vote.

When the dust settled, the council's leadership roughly reflected the election results. The council's residentialist camp, which scored a big victory in November with the election of Stone and the reelection of Lydia Kou, will see one of its members return to the central chair (or, as the case may be, the central Zoom screen). Burt, the top vote-getter in November, now holds the council's second leadership position and has a clear path to a third mayoral term in 2022.

DuBois was first elected to the council in 2014 and reelected in 2018. A former neighborhood activist, he became steeped in City Hall politics in 2013, when he was part of a group of residents who worked to overturn the council's approval of a housing development on Maybell Avenue, which included 60 units for low-income seniors and 12 single-family homes. After a successful referendum that year, he joined the council the following year as part of a wave of slow-growth candidates.

Over his six years on the council, DuBois has supported adopting stronger renter-protection laws, charging developers higher fees to support affordable housing, starting a business tax and creating a "safe parking" program for individuals who live in vehicles. He has chaired the council's Finance Committee, the Policy and Services Committee and Rail Committee and has been involved in a regional effort to expand the use of recycled water.

In nominating DuBois, Filseth lauded his track record of advocating for local control and transparency, as well as his spirit of collaboration.

"Tom is no stranger to advocacy, but one of the differences between being a council member and being a mayor is that as mayor you have a much greater responsibility on how to get the most out of the council as a group," Filseth said. "It's a bit of shift because it becomes less about your own passions and more about how to support and facilitate everybody else's passions, including those who you might not completely agree with."

DuBois will take leadership of the council just as his political camp is picking up a clear council majority. The election of Stone, who has campaigned with the residentialists, and Burt, traditionally a political centrist, means that his side will have at least four — and often five — votes on politically thorny issues such as retail-protection laws, development-impact fees and commission appointments.

After getting the nomination, DuBois said he was "committed this year to getting us working well together and functioning as a high-performing council." He also acknowledged the political shift and called the current council "the biggest pro-resident majority on the council in the history of Palo Alto."

"What I mean by that is that we're not dominated by influence of big business and development interests," DuBois said. "Given the amount of money that it took to win in our last election, I think that was really an amazing accomplishment."

He highlighted three priorities for the coming year: moving ahead with a business tax, planning for the redesign of the city's rail crossings, and finding ways to encourage the development of more affordable housing.

"I expect we'll need to consider changing some of our current zoning to enable more housing production," DuBois.

As usual, the contest for the vice mayor supplied all the drama on what was otherwise a ceremonial meeting filled with oaths, plaudits and resolutions. DuBois started the process by nominating Burt. Tanaka, who generally votes with the council's pro-growth camp, reached across the political aisle and nominated Kou, a staunch residentialist who shares his propensity for challenging staff recommendations and casting dissenting votes.

Filseth also looked past the council's usual political alignment and supported Cormack, the top vote-getter in the 2018 election. He reminded the council of the 2020 vice mayoral contest, where Cormack and DuBois were deadlocked with three votes each. Cormack broke the stalemate by giving DuBois her vote, making him the vice mayor (and, as of this week, mayor).

"The willingness to put the good of the community first, no matter what our own personal goals and objective are, is just so fundamental to this service," Filseth said.

But DuBois and Stone both advocated for Burt and pointed to his record of service as a council member between 2008 and 2016 and as a member of the Planning and Transportation Commission before that. Each argued that the city would benefit from Burt's experience in the coming year, as it continues to respond to the devastating health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Burt said he looks forward to working with the rest of the council to find a balanced approach to addressing this fallout from the pandemic.

"I feel capable to be able to help Mayor DuBois and city staff work through these challenges, to adjust our city budget, to really respond to the needs of the community that we have — that are really more people-oriented than ever before — and certain exceptional needs that have emerged from this crisis that didn't even exist beforehand," Burt said.

Comments

Excellent Leadership
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on Jan 4, 2021 at 9:43 pm
Excellent Leadership, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on Jan 4, 2021 at 9:43 pm
62 people like this

Our city and its residents won tonight. DuBois and Burt sound good together and their leadership promises to be be even better.

It's interesting to think about this being the biggest residentialist majority in council history. Now let's hope they can work well together. If Filseth continues his alliance with Cormack it sure won't work well, no matter how he tries to rationalize doing so. And Kou deserves and must get respect for her many postives and huge constiuency she represents.

Welcome on board Greer Stone. You seem to have a gift for words - the council can use that. And congratulations Tom and Pat. We are in such better shape now.








KOhlson
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Jan 4, 2021 at 9:55 pm
KOhlson, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jan 4, 2021 at 9:55 pm
24 people like this

Congratulations to our new CC members, and to Pat and Tom. Best wishes to all in the new year!


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 4, 2021 at 10:08 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Jan 4, 2021 at 10:08 pm
17 people like this

YEAH - we are going to do good in 2021. Congratulations.


Name hidden
Downtown North

Registered user
on Jan 4, 2021 at 10:10 pm
Name hidden, Downtown North

Registered user
on Jan 4, 2021 at 10:10 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


The Voice of Palo Alto
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Jan 4, 2021 at 11:13 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Jan 4, 2021 at 11:13 pm
12 people like this

[Post removed.]


Alex
Registered user
Barron Park
on Jan 5, 2021 at 3:12 am
Alex, Barron Park
Registered user
on Jan 5, 2021 at 3:12 am
5 people like this

[Post removed.]


downtown
Registered user
Downtown North
on Jan 5, 2021 at 7:43 am
downtown , Downtown North
Registered user
on Jan 5, 2021 at 7:43 am
20 people like this

New Palo Alto “leadership” is so out of touch: bring on the patriarchy and white male privilege. Embarrassing and sad. It’s actually what Palo Alto deserves.


Resident
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2021 at 8:57 am
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Jan 5, 2021 at 8:57 am
6 people like this

Funny hearing Aram James call other people "arrogant"


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 5, 2021 at 9:28 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Jan 5, 2021 at 9:28 am
24 people like this

Hey Downtown - Palo Alto deserves to determine it's path forward as opposed to being herded around by special interests advocacy groups. And legislative activists who are trying to disassemble existing city structures. They all sit in SF - what a picture of lost expectations. No one wants to go there. If that is what you are selling then you have failed.

The city of San Jose is busy tearing itself up to build a Google village, tearing out small business sections and lower cost housing. Meanwhile the San Jose city council now needs to focus on low-cost housing because it's existing areas have been torn out. So let "progress" proceed in San Jose going south to fresh ground yet to be built on. Then the "great visions' of you all can evolve. Meanwhile we have to resurrect a livable city scape on our downtown streets so the people want to come out and shop locally.


Stepheny
Registered user
Midtown
on Jan 5, 2021 at 10:58 am
Stepheny , Midtown
Registered user
on Jan 5, 2021 at 10:58 am
40 people like this

For the first time in a long time, I can be enthused and positive about our CC. Onward and upward with the best leadership we have had in years. Go Tom & Pat!


Congrats!
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 5, 2021 at 11:13 am
Congrats!, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Jan 5, 2021 at 11:13 am
34 people like this

Congrats Tom! It's nice to have a major that represents the interest of the majority of Palo Altans and embodies the definition of public service. I was impressed Burt reached out meaningfully to so many Palo Altans in person. He brings a wealth of knowledge and capability to the council.


JB
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Jan 5, 2021 at 11:39 am
JB, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Jan 5, 2021 at 11:39 am
40 people like this

Congratulations to both! I would have liked to see Lydia Kou as vice mayor, but Pat Burt (with his wealth of experience) should be a good addition. I'm surprised to hear that Eric Filseth backed Allison Cormack. I hope that this new council can quickly resolve the terrible overcrowding problems in Foothills Park.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 5, 2021 at 11:45 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Jan 5, 2021 at 11:45 am
28 people like this

"Filseth also looked past the council's usual political alignment and supported Cormack, the top vote-getter in the 2018 election. He reminded the council of the 2020 vice mayoral contest, where Cormack and DuBois were deadlocked with three votes each. Cormack broke the stalemate by giving DuBois her vote, making him the vice mayor (and, as of this week, mayor).

"The willingness to put the good of the community first, no matter what our own personal goals and objective are, is just so fundamental to this service," Filseth said."

Rather strange reasoning, in my opinion, since in the past year we've learned a lot more about Ms. Cormack's positions on the issues.


Congrats!
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2021 at 1:27 pm
Congrats!, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Jan 5, 2021 at 1:27 pm
21 people like this

Congrats to Mayor DuBois and Vice Mayor Burt. I strongly supported Pat Burt's candidacy and am delighted to see him in the Vice Mayor position. He has been a forward-thinking leader in the past, and I'm confident he will serve us well again.

I want to see a path laid toward the goals VM Burt laid out in his campaign that MayorDuBois supported.

Again, congrats.


City council goals
Registered user
Downtown North
on Jan 5, 2021 at 1:54 pm
City council goals, Downtown North
Registered user
on Jan 5, 2021 at 1:54 pm
24 people like this

I'm not sure that the new mayor, Mr. Dubois has thought through his priorities for the year. The most obvious non-starter is more housing. There is housing everywhere these days, for lease, for rent and for sale signs abound. We don't need to continue the past and overcrowd this city. What we do need to do is pass rezoning laws to thwart Sacramento's attempts to up-zone and allow developers to build high rises throughout the state.

I agree that we are far behind the curve in not having a business registry. It is time they started to pay for all the services that they use that taxpayers have been supporting.

After that we need to add to the parks and open space of the city and give back to residents. The ongoing pandemic shows the lack of open space and play space and the current overcrowded conditions show that we are underserved when it comes to park space. We need a revenue stream to buy park land that is cumulative and on going; with the goal to address the huge dearth of useable park space in the city.

It is time to help residents and provide for a better community for those that live here. Not overcrowd and overbuild and continue to destroy the environment.


Paly02
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Jan 5, 2021 at 6:15 pm
Paly02, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Jan 5, 2021 at 6:15 pm
2 people like this

Not gonna lie, I was pulling for Cormack for Vice Mayor :-/ I'm sure DuBois and Burt will do a lovely job, though


The Voice of Palo Alto
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Jan 6, 2021 at 10:22 am
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Jan 6, 2021 at 10:22 am
1 person likes this

[Post removed.]


Resident
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 6, 2021 at 10:58 am
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Jan 6, 2021 at 10:58 am
4 people like this

It appears "A Voice of Palo Alto" might be more accurate than "The Voice of Palo Alto."

But maybe she or he has "Palo Alto Values."


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 6, 2021 at 11:08 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Jan 6, 2021 at 11:08 am
15 people like this

What are Palo Alto Values? I think that we made it clear that we are not interested in being mowed down by external activist legislative and special interest groups. The state is a big place that is now under siege with people leaving in droves because they want a better quality of life. We should have the better quality of life right here.


Name hidden
Downtown North

Registered user
on Jan 6, 2021 at 8:01 pm
Name hidden, Downtown North

Registered user
on Jan 6, 2021 at 8:01 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


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