Mayor's Message Pleasant Hill
Oct 30, 2017 12:04PM
● By Michael Harris
A Month in the Life of the Mayor
By Michael G. Harris, OD, Mayor of Pleasant Hill
I'm often asked, “What does the mayor of Pleasant Hill do?” To help answer this question, this column will review "a month in the life of the mayor." To begin with, I attend a lot of meetings with residents, city staff, and community leaders: breakfast meetings, lunch meetings, dinner meetings, and just about any time of day meetings. I average about three meetings per day, and there are some days where I’ve had eight different meetings.
I also attend and speak at a lot of community events and fundraisers. There seems to be at least two or three local, regional, or statewide events every week. Some weeks I'm at meetings, ribbon cuttings, grand openings, school, or community events every day of the week. The monthly meetings of the Contra Costa County Mayors’ Conference and the East Bay Division of the League of California Cities gave me an opportunity to network with other elected officials and hear speakers on timely topics that affect our city. The League of California Cities Annual Conference provided an opportunity to learn more about topics such as autonomous vehicles, public safety policy, new libraries, and cannabis regulations.
I also attended the fabulous Tinkers and Thinkers Fair, put on by Pleasant Hill Library and the Pleasant Hill Rec & Park District. Along with children of all ages, I was fascinated by the robotics and other hands-on activities available for young inventors. The following week, I delivered Meals on Wheels to homebound seniors as part of an ongoing project of the Pleasant Hill Rotary Club.
I chaired two monthly city council meetings. We discussed various issues, including citywide design guidelines and the selection of the new library architect. Perhaps the most interesting item discussed involved new cannabis regulations. With the passage of Proposition 64, cannabis sales are now legal in California, but each city can decide whether or not it will allow commercial cultivation, medical marijuana retailers, adult use sales, and deliveries. After hearing from members of the public on both sides of this issue and having a lively discussion among my colleagues, we decided to prohibit commercial cultivation and place a moratorium on cannabis sales.
The council had a joint meeting with the directors of the Mount Diablo Unified School Board District, where we got an update on what's happening in our local schools. I'm delighted that we now have an ongoing and productive relationship with the District. I participated in the 13th Annual Pleasant Hill Community Service Day, which I started when I was mayor in 2005. Hundreds of volunteers worked on 24 community improvement projects throughout our city. The day was a huge success.
Attended Various Community Events
There was a fundraising auction for New Day for Children, an organization that helps the victims of human trafficking restart their lives; several Chamber of Commerce meetings; a workshop on implicit bias and procedural justice; and board meetings of the YMCA and Foundation for Pleasant Hill Education. I joined my fellow councilmembers at a fundraiser for new playground equipment at Pleasant Oaks Park.
I spoke at the Fall Prevention Pancake Fundraiser, sponsored by Meals on Wheels and Senior Outreach Services. I joined in the fun of the pancake-flipping contest, which I lost to much younger contestants. The participants then started a new tradition – pancake flipping at the mayor. It was great fun. I also spoke at the 4th anniversary celebration for White Pony Express, an organization located in Pleasant Hill that provides food and clothing to those in need in Contra Costa County. I was a speaker at the ribbon cutting of the new National University campus in Pleasant Hill. They joined forces with John F. Kennedy University in providing educational opportunities for recent grads and others training for new careers.
The Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce's annual Art, Wine and Music Festival was another opportunity to help our community and meet our residents. I welcomed hundreds of folks at the annual Step Up for Down Syndrome fundraiser and walk. I also greeted the participants at the Family Caregivers Workshop, sponsored by our Commission on Aging. I’ve left out numerous meetings with residents and the hours I spend answering emails and reading material in preparation for meetings. Next month, I will be hosting third graders at our annual Mock City Council meeting and welcoming residents to the Hospice Tree of Light ceremony and the city's annual Light Up The Night program.
Yes, it's been a busy month as mayor, and I've enjoyed every moment of it. Fortunately, I was still able to spend quality time with my family and friends, work out at the Y, write my monthly mayor’s column and book review, and work as professor emeritus at UC Berkeley. My sincere thanks for allowing me to serve our city. I'm a lucky guy!