Cotati City Councilman Mark Landman, who became involved in the city's politics when he helped lead a bitter and successful 2009 campaign to recall Councilman George Barich, was selected to be its mayor Wednesday.

The unanimous council vote came after Vice Mayor Pat Gilardi, who was expected to be nominated to be the next mayor, said she would have to decline any such nomination.

She then put forward Landman's name. In his first comments from the dais as mayor, he said, "Life is full of surprises, especially in Cotati."

Gilardi, a councilwoman since 2000 and twice the city's mayor, did not explain her action. But new 1st District Supervisor Susan Gorin said last week she has asked Gilardi to be her district director, a full-time position.

Gilardi has since declined to comment about the job and whether she will take it. At the cupcake reception following Wednesday's vote, she declined again. And asked whether she expected to serve out the remaining two years of her term, Gilardi also would not comment.

Landman presented outgoing Mayor Susan Harvey with a plaque recognizing her service and made only brief remarks from the dais, thanking his wife and the community for their support.

Spectators greeted with applause the vote to approve him for the council's top spot. Those clapping included Barich, a regular and outspoken critic of the council, with whom Landman has often clashed.

Exchanges of power and position in Cotati tend to be civil but often are followed by controversy and conflict, whether over personalities or issues. With a plan now being developed to remake downtown Cotati, that prospect may again be on the horizon.

A retired Novato fire captain, Landman was appointed to the council in 2009 to replace Mayor John Guardino, who resigned. He ran to keep his seat in 2010 and is next up for election in 2014.

Councilman John Dell'Osso was nominated by Landman to be the new vice mayor and was unanimously selected.

You can reach Staff Writer Jeremy Hay at 521-5212 or