Mayor question won’t be on ballot

The 2023 Palo Alto City Council is comprised of, from left, Vicki Veenker, Greg Tanaka, Vice Mayor Greer Stone, Mayor Lydia Kou, Pat Burt, Julie Lythcott-Haims and Ed Lauing. Post photo by Braden Cartwright.

Daily Post Managing Editor

The Palo Alto City Council voted tonight (May 20) not to place a measure on the ballot regarding a directly elected mayor.

The council debated whether to have residents pick their mayor, voting 4-3 to keep working on the idea, and as a result, to not put the issue on the November ballot.

Right now, the city’s mayor is selected amongst the seven elected council members during an annual rotation.

A committee made up of Mayor Greer Stone and Councilwoman Vicki Veenker proposed a two-year term for a voter-elected mayor. Under the proposal, council would be able to change the term to four years, or back to two years, after a mayor’s current term is finished.

In order to be eligible to serve as mayor, a person would have to be 18 or older, a U.S. citizen and have lived in Palo Alto for at least 30 days. Those are requirements that council members now face.

An additional requirement for mayor would be at least two years of experience on City Council by the time they take office.

Council members Ed Lauing, Pat Burt and Lydia Kou were against the idea. Kou said residents had not had enough time to vet the idea before it would land on their ballot in November. Burt and Lauing both noted that no resident had brought up this concept as a needed change to the council.

Stone and Veenker were joined by Greg Tanaka in endorsing the concept. All three said the change gives more power to voters. Veenker also said it’s possible the city may see more diverse mayors as a result, pointing out that only 20% of mayors in recent years have been women.

Councilwoman Julie Lythcott-Haims said she was for the idea of having residents directly elect the mayor, but said the proposal needs some more work.

Pick up the Post on Wednesday for more information.