EL CERRITO -- The City Council elected council veteran Janet Abelson mayor for the fourth time at its meeting Dec. 3.

Abelson, who will lead the council through 2014, previously served as mayor in 2002, 2006 and 2010 and has been a council member since 1999.

She has been an El Cerrito resident since 1970 and has served as chair of the West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee, among other regional and community responsibilities.

Council member Rebecca Benassini was elected to succeed Abelson as mayor pro tem. Outgoing Mayor Greg Lyman cited a number of accomplishments in the past year, including progress in formulating a strategic plan, a climate action plan and an urban greening plan for the city.

Lyman also mentioned a new relationship with Off the Grid, an organization that produces food truck dining events in the Bay Area, and a ban on Styrofoam containers for takeout food from restaurants and prohibition on free plastic bags at retail outlets, as achievements.

Lyman noted that the city preserved $1.7 million for the city budget in a successful lawsuit challenging the state over the amount of redevelopment funds owed, obtained eight grants totaling $4.23 million, and undertook $2 million worth of street improvements during the year.

Abelson said she is looking forward to leading all of the city's planning initiatives to completion in the coming year.

She also credited the City Council and city staff for maintaining El Cerrito's fiscal health through difficult economic times since 2008.

Earlier in the evening, the council honored resident Randy Schekman for receiving the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Schekman, a 37-year-old professor of cell and developmental biology at UC Berkeley, was recognized for his work in revealing the machinery that regulates the transport and secretion of proteins in cells.

He shared the prize with James Rothman of Yale University and Thomas Sudhof of Stanford University.

The city has named Dec. 10, the day the King of Sweden will confer the award on Schekman, as Randy Schekman Day in El Cerrito.