Although the chamber shed its historic stodgy appearance years ago by choosing versatile, colorful leaders in tune with the city's progress, the guitar-playing vocalist Stark -- who hangs out with the adult equivalent of a teenage garage band -- brings unique vibrations to an organization that is becoming younger and more lively each year.
Just last week, Stark joined an Indie rock band at Handles Gastropub in downtown Pleasanton for an alternative rock concert that raised thousands of dollars for the Pleasanton Partnerships in Education (PPIE) Foundation, a Stark favorite.
Stark is public affairs director for the Bay East Association of Realtors and is a frequent speaker at organizations throughout the Valley in this surging buying and selling real estate field. His slideshows at some of the Friday morning meetings of the Valley Real Estate Network fill Tommy T's.
When he's not the speaker, he's often the interviewer with a "Meet the Press" probing-style that keeps police chiefs, school superintendents and city leaders on their toes. He's not afraid to ask Pleasanton Police Chief Dave Spiller the best way to get out of a ticket or Mayor Jerry Thorne how to add a home addition without the hassle of getting a building permit. Because of his day job at Bay East and his many volunteer and extra-curricular activities, Stark may be the best-wired leader the chamber has ever had, which will help the group's political foundation in making choices in this year's elections.
Stark, who is 44, knows the issues. He's worked in city governments and managed housing and community development projects here and in Southern California. For years, he served on the Pleasanton Housing Commission at a time when the state, an affordable housing coalition and Alameda County Superior Court ordered Pleasanton to clean up its restricted housing policies and build more high density apartments affordable to the city's growing workforce. He also walks where he talks, tearing out the front yard at his Pleasanton home and installing drought-friendly plantings.
At the chamber's installation luncheon, Scott Raty, the chamber's president and chief executive, praised Stark for his many civic contributions to the community, including serving as head of the chamber's government affairs group for the past year. Stark serves on the city's Human Services Commission and has been a member of the Chamber's board of directors for the last three years. He also is the volunteer director of E-Soccer, a special needs sports program that emphasizes full inclusion in small group settings and one-on-one coaching.
At the ceremony, the real estate-focused Stark offered two comments of advice.
First, he said, if you want to know what the next high-tech trend or communication widget will be don't ask your teenager, ask a Realtor. "If there's a social media site, cell phone, laptop, tablet or Bluetooth, anything that helps you stay connected, a Realtor will have it first."
Second, anticipate change and adapt immediately to new conditions as Realtors do. No other profession has weathered the highs and lows of the last decade more than Realtors. Those who have survived have redefined themselves, adopted new business practices, kept some old-school ways of operating and jettisoned the rest. He's proud to represent a profession that isn't guaranteed success by keeping things "business as usual" but earns a living one transaction at a time in a highly challenging environment.
Stark said he will serve in his new leadership position "with these two lessons ringing loudly" as he works with others to maintain and increase the success of the city of Pleasanton and its Chamber of Commerce.