That gavel should feel comfortable in Pat Eklund's hand by now.
The veteran council member is expected to become mayor of Novato for a record fifth time Tuesday night at a council reorganization at Novato City Hall.
It's not a guarantee — there still has to be an official vote — but it's normal protocol for the mayor pro-tem to become mayor. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.
The mayorship in Novato is largely ceremonial and has no additional power over other council members. The mayor presides over each council meeting, guiding the proceedings through the agenda and acting as a referee. Many official documents require the mayor's signature. Outside of the meetings, it is a hefty time commitment because of all the requests for a mayor to show up at public functions. Yet it can be a coveted position; it's not bad for one's resume.
None of the council members in Novato are full-time politicians. They get paid a stipend per meeting plus some benefits. Eklund is a manager with the Environmental Protection Agency's San Francisco office.
First elected in June 1995, Eklund first took the mayoral reins in November 1996 from then-Mayor Ernie Gray, and she served one-year terms in 2000, 2004 and 2008. Gray is the only other council member to serve as mayor four times since the city incorporated in 1960.
Denise Athas is wrapping up her first stint as mayor. Council member Jeanne MacLeamy has wielded the gavel twice before and Madeline Kellner once. Councilman Eric Lucan, the top vote getter in the November 2011 election, is finishing his "rookie year."
The terms of Athas and Eklund expire in November 2013; those of the others expire in November 2015.
Eklund will be at the helm as Novato finishes its 2007-2014 general plan update (including the controversial housing element that addresses possible locations for affordable housing), the construction of the new city administrative offices, ongoing efforts to reduce a chronic budget deficit and potential major commercial developments.
At Tuesday's meeting, there will be an election of the mayor, an election of the mayor pro-tem, a presentation of a gavel plaque to outgoing mayor Athas and remarks by Athas and the new mayor.
Who has served as Novato mayor in the past? See the attached list.