Thanks for the review on district elections (“An at-large San Mateo mayor worth exploring” column by Jon Mays in the Sept. 10 edition). An at-large mayor is a good idea and may provide a counterbalance to at least one of the negative aspects of district elections, i.e. parochialism. We need to have at least one councilmember who must take positions that appeal to all city residents. I suspect that some of the governing problems in big cities like San Francisco are due to the tribal nature of district elections.

Also, there is something which I find hard to define but necessary about having a dedicated leader who wants to be in charge, not councilmembers “taking turns” at sitting in the leadership chair.

Currently, the city manager is a very highly compensated singular ruler of the roost with a City Council that is barely compensated at all with practical constraints on how much time they are willing and able to provide to governance. Things seem out of balance to me. Further discussion would be valuable.

Bruce Adornato 

Menlo Park

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(2) comments


I don't get the opposition to the at large mayor idea. I understand the motivation for moving to districts instead of at-large election of multiple candidates -- the at-large council election method allows a bare majority to elect the whole council, by voting for a slate. (You also can deal with this through a Proportional Representation method, but that is admittedly more complicated.) But regardless, even if the mayor merely hosts meetings as a "first among equals", there is some real value to having the person in that role represent the whole town, and not just one slice of it.


Thanks Jon, That has been my comments in favor of an at large mayor.

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