Meet the Mayor

Mayor Susan Wernick (Photo courtesy of City of Novato)

Sunny Novato is the neighbor to the north and the gateway to Sonoma County and Wine Country. The city has the second biggest population in Marin County and the largest total area and is well known for its open spaces, ideal climate and vibrant business districts. Indeed, Novato’s more then 52,000 residents and numerous local businesses, particularly long the charming Grant Avenue, find it the ideal place to live and do business.

Meet the Mayor

Susan Wernick shares her favorite things about the city she and her family call home.

Susan Wernick, who has lived in Novato for 41 years and raised two sons here, got interested in government while working on the 2010 Novato Housing Element Update and later serving on the planning commission. She was first elected to the Novato city council in 2019, served as mayor pro tem in 2022, and was appointed to serve a one-year term as mayor in December of 2022. She loves serving and volunteering in her community and is a founding member of the San Marin Housing Coalition and Novato Forward.


Why is Novato a great place to raise a family and to live?

I always say Novato is a very big “small town.” Novato has all the conveniences and access of a larger city but feels like a small town when you run into neighbors at dinner or the farmers market. Our events are perfectly sized for connection of all ages, and I regularly see grandparents, kids and grandchildren enjoying our Concerts on the Green. Every weekend there is a family-friendly thing to do in town and it makes for a rich sense of community and connection for our city.

Why is Novato a great place for small business?

Aside from more affordable commercial and industrial rents as compared to San Francisco and the greater Bay Area, Novato also offers a supportive business community. From our Downtown Novato Business Association to the Chamber of Commerce, Novato’s love of small and unique businesses is unparalleled. Add to that a suite of support from the city, like our Shop Local program which encourages Novatans to keep our dollars local, it’s easy to see that Novato offers a great North Bay option for businesses.

Are there any new businesses in town?

We’re excited to see Henhouse establish in our downtown later this year and appreciate that restaurants like Ayawaska, Blue Barn and Perry’s have opened new locations here. Novatans also hold traditions dear so mainstays like Creekside Bakery and Pini Hardware are convenient, comfortable and well-loved businesses as well.

Describe Novato’s unique role as the gateway to Sonoma and Wine Country.

Novato was long-known as a sort of stop-over city, but with the convenience of the SMART Train and all the investments that we’ve made in the city, it’s safe to say it’s no longer just a gateway. We have world-renowned wineries and breweries, a wonderful mix of fine dining and casual bites and a bustling business community with international firms, small business and biotech leaders.

What is community and lifestyle like in Novato?

Novato’s pace is accessible — there is not the hustle and bustle of a large city, but it’s also not a sleepy little hamlet. We’re an active community and enjoy utilizing our extensive parks and trails network.

What are Novato’s challenges as it heads into the future?

One thing Novato will need to grapple with in the next year is how to address our structural budget deficit. The community may be contacted as we launch a survey to likely voters in July about how Novato is doing on a variety of community concerns. It’s been several years since we launched a full community satisfaction survey and I’m interested as mayor in hearing from people we don’t typically hear from on several issues.

By the Numbers

*source United States Census Bureau (as of July 2022)

52,184 total population

49% female population

2,809 number of veterans

$839,700 medium value of owner-occupied housing units

46.5% those with a bachelors’ degree or greater

31.6 minutes – mean travel time to work

$107,975 median household income

934 men-owned employer firms

265 women-owned employer firms

248 minority-owned employer firms

aerial shot of Novato Gush