Councilmember Mark Santoro was elected mayor of Cupertino by the city's newest council on Tuesday night, pledging transparency in government and eliminating an unpopular rule limiting public comment.
The council also elected Orrin Mahoney as vice mayor. It's his second time in the position, having already served as vice mayor and mayor during his first four years.
The votes were not unanimous. Councilmember Barry Chang tersely abstained in an apparent protest. One year ago Chang was snubbed by the council for the vice mayor position, which by tradition he was in line for. Had he been elected vice mayor then, he might have become mayor this year.
Just prior to the mayor and vice mayor votes, the council said goodbye to Councilmember Kris Wang after eight years on the council, and officially welcomed its newest member Rod Sinks. Sinks, who came in second after Wong by just 143 votes in the , was sworn in for his first term, along with Wong, who was sworn in for his second term.
Santa Clara County Supervisor Liz Kniss administered the oath of office to both Santoro—who is a long-time friend and colleague of hers from their days working at Sun Microsystems—and Wong. She praised both men for their work as council members, as well as Wang for her service. She also congratulated Sinks on his election success.
In his opening remarks as mayor, Santoro said he is instituting "Meet Mayor Mark" forums each month, to answer questions from the public. The first forum is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 18, from 4 to 5:30 p.m., in the old council chambers inside Future forums will take place on the first Wednesday of each month, the day after the first council meeting of the month.
To hearty applause, Santoro also said he was doing away with the 2-minute speaking rule set by Wong last year that chaffed many residents accustomed to a 3-minute limit. Santoro said he understood that Wong made the change to keep meeting lengths in check—in past years the council meetings were notorious for lasting long past midnight.
"I will however remind all the speakers it’s up to three minutes," he quipped to laughter from the audiene. "You don’t have to take the whole time, and you will be encouraged to keep it shorter and you don’t need to repeat what others said."
Outgoing Councilmember Kris Wang was applauded earlier in the evening for her years of service. She was praised by council members, staff and members of the community for her work in the community on council, the Planning Commission, and through efforts such as the Sister City program and the Rotary Club.
"When I look back, in the time I’ve served with Kris, I think we’ve made not perfect decisions but good decisions, and a lot better than a lot of governing bodies have done, and Kris has certainly been a big part of that and I want to thank her for that," Santoro said.