Palo Alto will elect its 2013 mayor and vice mayor tonight, as well as say goodbye to outgoing Mayor Yiaway Yeh and Councilman Sid Espinosa, who will be taking part in their final meeting.
The mayoral election should prove anticlimactic, with Vice Mayor Greg Scharff slated to move to the central position behind the dais, as per council tradition. But it remains to be seen who will take over Scharff's position, which all but guarantees the top spot in 2014.
Last year, Scharff edged out Greg Schmid in becoming vice mayor, despite the latter's seniority on the council. Schmid, who was first elected in 2007 and who was resoundingly re-elected in November (garnering second-most votes, behind former councilwoman Liz Kniss), could finally find himself in a leadership position tonight.
Other council members who have not served in either leadership role are Karen Holman, Gail Price and Nancy Shepherd, all of whom were elected in November 2009 and started serving in January 2010, and Marc Berman, who will make his council debut tonight.
The mayoral position in Palo Alto is largely ceremonial. The mayor chairs meeting, helps put together the council agenda and attends various ceremonial functions and ribbon-cutting ceremonies throughout the year. But when it comes to legislative powers, the mayor gets one vote just like the rest of the council.
In addition to swearing in Berman, Kniss (who had served as mayor twice in her previous council stint) and re-elected incumbents Schmid and Pat Burt, the council will pass resolutions expressing appreciation for Yeh and Espinosa.
Yeh, who plans to move to Nashville this year, will be recognized for his "Mayor's Challenge" initiative, which sought to strengthen neighborhood ties through a series of recreational events; for leading the city's quest to repair decrepit infrastructure; and for representing the city throughout his council tenure on the Northern California Power Authority.
"Yiaway did all of the aforementioned work while welcoming all opinions, seeking consensus, working in a collegial manner, with great respect for all colleagues, staff and the public, and with a quiet resolve and determination to maintain Palo Alto's sense of community," the resolution states.
Espinosa, a Microsoft executive who was elected in 2007 along with Yeh, will be recognized for promoting the city's aggressive bike initiatives, advocating for the city's ambitious library-renovation project; helping to ensure balanced budgets; and "supporting the use of technology to revolutionize the way that Palo Alto provides government services and interacts with its citizens."
It also lauds Espinosa, a former mayor, for "incredible energy, creativity and professionalism, while maintaining a spirit of goodwill, perspective, a sense of humor and a strong commitment to Palo Alto."
The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 250 Hamilton Ave.