New Palo Alto Council Elected

The Palo Alto City Council unanimously voted to elect Karen Holman as the new city mayor and Greg Schmid was appointed as vice mayor for 2015.

Holman and Schmid were sworn into office on Jan. 5 along with three other councilmen: Tom DuBois, Eric Filseth and Cory Wolbach.

Holman introduced some of the plans she will pursue in the future as mayor of Palo Alto. With a campaign aligned with the anti-development “residentialist” group, Holman plans to revisit Palo Alto’s development promotion policies.

“The amount and rate of office growth have significant impacts on parking, traffic, housing demand, quality of life,” Holman said. “Council and the public must consider how much office space Palo Alto can sustain and manage growth appropriately.”

Holman hopes managing the growth of office space will retain local businesses.

“We’ve all seen retail space be converted to office and local businesses leave Palo Alto for Los Altos, Redwood City and Menlo Park,” Holman said. “This is neither economically wise nor desirable in terms of delivering diverse goods and services to our community.”

This election was different and unusual because typically, the previous vice mayor is elected mayor. However, Liz Kniss, the preceding vice mayor, nominated Holman as mayor and the council unanimously approved.

While nominating Holman, Kniss pointed out a recent election in which the “community became divided” and “neighbors actually stopped chatting with each other and lots of conversations around the community became uncomfortable and awkward.”

Holman is the 13th female to serve as mayor for the City of Palo Alto. Kniss believes Homan can be “a very effective next woman mayor.”

The spot for vice mayor was close with Schmid winning to his opponent Pat Burt by a single vote. This is the first time Schmid, a retired economist, has held a leadership position while Burt served as vice mayor in 2010.

Holman was in favor of Burt along with DuBois, Filseth and Burt himself. Greg Scharff, who nominated Schmid, voted for Burt, unclear antecedent, as well as Kniss, Wolbach, Marc Berman and Schmid himself.

During the meeting, council members Larry Klein, Gail Price and Nancy Shepherd bid farewell. Klein finished his term, while Price decided not to run for a second term and Shepherd who ran for re-election but lost.