Motivations for a Popularly/Directly Elected Mayor

There are multiple distinct motivations for this, and each of these may have alternatives that could address the problem (but since they haven't already been instituted, ...).
  1. Regional boards: Palo Alto participates in a range of regional boards that have substantial impact on us. However, our representatives tend to have less clout on these boards than similar cities.
  2. Follow-through on initiatives: The 1-year term for Palo Alto's mayor means that shortly after they get up to speed, they become a lame duck. Too often, the initiatives they take are not followed through on by their successor. Counter-example: Bern Beecham was pushing for improving the environment for retail in Palo Alto when he was Vice Mayor, established a Committee when he was Mayor and is now leading a follow-on Committee under his successor (Jim Burch).
  3. Palo Alto has a "Strong City Manager" for of government (as opposed to the "Strong Mayor" that San Francisco and many other big cities have). This proposal would *not* change that. Rather, a directly elected mayor serving a two-year term could somewhat reduces the power imbalance.
  4. Selection criteria: Currently, mayors are selected largely based upon it being their turn. Selecting mayors based upon their skill sets could improve effectiveness of Council.

The advocates of a directly elected mayor are seeking to make only minor changes to the current situation. The debate whether these changes produce enough advantages to both warrant the risks (unintended/unforseen consequences) and justify the cost and aggravation of making the change.

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