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Selecting a Mayor

Original post made by Annette, College Terrace, on Jan 7, 2019

Politics should not play a part in this, but of course it does. I think this city would function more representatively if we had district elections or the public elected the mayor. Per the Daily Post, tonight is likely to see Filseth elevated to mayor and Fine to vice mayor. Dubois has twice as much experience as Fine and he garnered more votes than Filseth. That puts him ahead in two significant categories (Council tenure and voter support) yet he apparently isn't even in the discussion. So much for public opinion. And so much for the Brown Act.

I doubt it will be long before the activist who sues cities over the California Voter Rights Act gets around to threatening Palo Alto with a lawsuit. I think that will probably be a good thing as I have long thought our process needs improvement.

Comments (11)

Posted by Not a real mayor
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 7, 2019 at 6:05 pm

Annette- I read that article and you seem to be parroting the comments that karen Holman made in that article.
Of course, Holman had no problem with the way the system worked when she was vice mayor and mayor. Typical of her.
That said, I agree that the mayor should be elected by the voters. In fact the position is not really that of a mayor. But rather as the gavel holder for meetings, so I think that the title should changed to " gavel holder" and " vice gavel Holder".

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 7, 2019 at 7:13 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Direct election of the mayor and vice mayor seems like a no-brainer, esp. now that ABAG's CASA program is trying to impose $2.5 Billion in new taxes at a time when PA voters questioned the pro-development agenda of the past council. You'll recall that when Greg Scharff, an ABAG VP was criticized for having missed so many meetings of his various commissions and groups like ABAG, he stated that he could always just have Mr. Fine can always fill in for him!

The appointment of the most aggressively pro-development council member as vice mayor flies on the face of voter sentiment to limit office growth.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 7, 2019 at 8:03 pm

Speaking of this CASA deal, how dare they tax us more. Regional “planning” bureaucrats. We have too many bureaucrats in this state and they are all crowing about their plans to tax us even more. I’m keeping options open as to leaving this state. They are killing the golden goose. Billionaires don’t care - they have shell corporations and tax dodges. See: new governor, whose current wife is the daughter of a billionaire. We are in the era of the “billionaire politicians.” I don’t support this.

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 7, 2019 at 10:10 pm

What's the point of being a billionaire if you can't run things?

Posted by Not a real mayor
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 8, 2019 at 8:27 am

Online name- a new year and a new council and online name is starting with the false claims and misrepresentations regarding certain council members.i thought you said that kniss wwzdd the most pro development. Anyway, fine is the most pro housing. But since you do not have wolbach to bash anymore I guess that fine will be the "villain" this year.
If you don't like the way the mayor is selected then work for a change instead of constantly complaining on this forum.
When can we expect to hear about a demand for a recall?

Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2019 at 2:33 pm

Some of the above seems to be a debate, ie, "Mayor vs City Manager system, pro and con". I, for one, don't see a problem with the City Manager system per se. I see a massive amount of money pushing further office space development since the 1960's, with occasional timeouts when "residentialists" have been elected. But, no going back. This will be a problem with an elected mayor also. I think we need a permanent change to the city charter to arrest office space development. "Period" .

Posted by resident
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 8, 2019 at 10:08 pm

So why are we - the citizens - not electing the mayor? Since Palo Alto likes to toot it's horn and turns up in the national press then we should have a mayor elected by the citizens. And term limits apply. I believe that most other local cities in Santa Clara and San Mateo elect the mayor so let's make it happen. The current method of mayor selection appears to have a lot of political issues which the citizens should have a voice in.

I am surprised to read above that Greg was an official with ABAG. That is the organization that had a leader who used organization funds to purchase homes for himself. So much for credibility of ABAG.

Is it possible that the city manager is actually running the show along with the city staff?

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 9, 2019 at 1:03 am

We elected the council who elected the mayor. Good enough filter for me. All Palo Alto voters did get an equal say in the matter, if not directly. A straight popular vote could well have put Alison Cormack in the center seat, for the same reasons she scored the highest number of votes by a wide margin last November. Nothing against Alison, but give her a year or two before throwing her into the breach. Elections can sometimes give funny results. Sometimes not so funny.

Posted by Juliette R
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 9, 2019 at 2:57 am

New council member Alison Cormack’s campaign was run completely on I don’t want to comment on the “subject” because I haven’t reviewed the data, it gives the voters no indication what that person’s values/principles are.

In an interview with the Post, Cormack was asked about the office development cap and she said cutting back office development allowed for the next 12 years “limits our degrees of freedom”.

But, she did say she wants to bring the two sides together.

Ousted Wolbach say something similar four years ago, something about bringing civility to council. Civil he was not.

Sigh, do voters ever learn to see through campaign language?

Posted by resident
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 9, 2019 at 9:29 am

It is obvious by the comments on this stream and other streams on the subject that the CC being the arbiter of who is Mayor and Vice Mayor is filled with partisan opinions. Other cities are now going to a regional representation role so each segment of the city has a representative vs who is most popular/richest in funds. Since we have now gone down in number of reps I think it is time that we reevaluate the representation on the council as whole and how we come up with a mayor. And I do not buy the statement that the role is "ceremonial" since that person is either attracting development or current sustainment on other regional organizations (ABAG as example).

Posted by The Patriot
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 9, 2019 at 9:52 am

The Patriot is a registered user.

In the City Manager format of municipal government, a Mayor is an insignificant title...oftentimes a senior councilmember who gets to cut ribbons, attend gala openings & serve as a spokesperson for various civic issues.

The City Manager (hired by the council) actually runs the show. Many constituents fail to understand that while the city council can discuss and enact various municipal ordinances and spending protocols, they are second-tier (in terms operational power) to the City Manager's Office and his administrative departments. The city council's only real power involves hiring/firing a City Manager.

If they were chessboard pieces, PACC members would be representative of the King.
The City Manager is the Queen and his departments (Rook, Knight, Bishop etc.) wield far more power than councilmembers.

The PA city residents are the Pawns

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