Palo Alto has a new mayor.
Yiaway Yeh, 33, is the first Gunn High School graduate to become mayor, and is the second-youngest mayor after Byrl L. Salsman, who was elected in 1937 and was, according to Council Member Larry Klein, nine months younger than Yiaway Yeh at the time.
Yeh has served as Vice Mayor alongside Mayor Sid Espinosa for the past year. His election came after a unanimous vote by fellow council members.
Yeh said the city’s infrastructure will be a top priority this year.
“I do see 2012 as the year of infrastructure investment and renewal in our community,” he said.
Yeh also highlighted youth wellbeing, sustainability, and reworking city services as central to his mayoral focus this year.
Council members were particularly impressed with Yeh’s role as an auditor with extensive experience analyzing large city departments, including in Oakland and San Francisco.
“Experience auditing government agencies gives him experience far beyond his 33 years,” said Council Member Larry Klein.
Former Mayor Pat Burt said that Yeh’s philosophy of government was also a major positive attribute.
“Yiaway is someone who truly believes that government is here to serve the community,” said Burt, “and that government can be conducted in a way that is open, fair, deliberate, and efficient.
“I think that each leader has his own style,” he continued, “and Yiaway’s is one where he will continue to have that quiet and yet strong leadership that we’ve seen from him throughout his four years on council to date.”
Youth wellbeing is central to Yeh’s 2012 mayoral strategy. He said Palo Alto needs to continue promoting a “culture of resiliency” as well as developmental assets.
Yeh also said he intends to focus on helping the city meet its sustainability goals by furthering the urban forestry plan, bolstering the city’s carbon-neutral portfolio, and moving forward the proposed compost facility at the former landfill site.
Finally, Yeh said 2012 will continue being a time of austerity, and that council will need to continue reviewing how it provides services.
“We need to look at how to provide the most cost-effective service, but in a way that the quality of those services are positively impacted,” said Yeh.
Following the election of Yeh as Mayor, Council Member Greg Scharff was elected Vice Mayor in a unanimous vote.