Tri-Valley Hero, Lifetime Achievement: Livermore's Marshall Kamena

Former Livermore mayor, longtime TV30 advocate recognized as catalyst for positive change in the community

Marshall Kamena (right) sits in the control room at TV30 with Melissa Tench-Stevens, Tri-Valley Community Television’s executive director and president. (Photo courtesy of TV30)

Former Livermore Mayor Dr. Marshall Kamena had been on the City Council only a short time when in 1976 a homeowner approached the council with a suggestion: "Some cities in Southern California were establishing local community television stations, how about Livermore?"

Intrigued by the question, Kamena asked city staff to explore the idea and to work with the only other incorporated city in the Tri-Valley at the time -- Pleasanton -- to see if it was interested.

Today, the result of that effort is Tri-Valley Community Television, which broadcasts on Comcast channels 28, 29 and 30, and AT&T U-verse to nearly 100,000 households, representing a population of more than 370,000 people.

Because of this effort and Kamena's decades of meritorious professional, civic and public work, he was honored last month with the 2018 Tri-Valley Heroes Lifetime Achievement award at the annual ceremony at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Pleasanton.

"This award recognizes Dr. Kamena for the contributions, leadership, enthusiasm and tireless efforts on behalf of his community and neighbors," said Gina Channell, president and publisher of Embarcadero Media's East Bay Division, which sponsors the annual Heroes event.

"Dr. Kamena has lived a life of public service as a respected optometrist, Livermore City Council member and mayor and has held a plethora of positions on committees, commissions, boards and agencies," Channell said, adding:

"His ability to look past challenges to see bigger opportunities, his collaborative leadership style and his penchant for being a catalyst of positive change has left a legacy that we in the Tri-Valley benefit from now and will continue to enjoy long into the future."

Kamena served on the Livermore council from 1976 to 1985 and as a six-term mayor of Livermore, leaving office in 2011 as the only mayor emeritus of the city.

After his mayoral term ended, Kamena's official capacity as president of the board of TV30 also ended. So, he established a nonprofit foundation devoted to supporting TV30, where he continues to serve in an unpaid volunteer position as its president.

Working with Melissa Tench-Stevens, Tri-Valley Community Television's executive director, Kamena's job as TV30 Foundation president is to support her mission by obtaining direct grants, providing underwriters, seeking client productions and mobilizing support.

"My goal is to continue to assist in bringing excellence to the award-winning productions of the most respected community television studio in California," Kamena said.

He cited the system's many contributions in providing the Tri-Valley with community television.

Its three stations are on the air 24 hours a day, with Channel 30 producing more than 30 original programs a month. The nonprofit system provides live coverage of meetings of city and town councils, school boards and the Livermore Area Recreation and Park District board.

TV30 also covers holiday parades, high school football and basketball games and entertainment and festivities in in Danville, Dublin, Livermore and Pleasanton. San Ramon dropped out of TV30's Tri-Valley pact in 2012, shifting its support to Contra Costa Television, a government-run station.

Kamena pointed out that video-on-demand enables viewers to watch all TV30's channels anytime, anywhere in the world.

"In fact, 19% of our V-o-D viewership is located in mainland China," Kamena added.

In presenting Kamena with the Heroes award, Channell cited some of his other achievements over the years, adding that "the list is long."

His appointments to interagency commissions and committees include many focusing on transportation, such as the Alameda County Transit Commission, and innovation, like Livermore iGate and iHub board of directors.

Besides starting TV30, Kamena also was the founding director of the Livermore Redevelopment Agency and founding director of the Livermore-Pleasanton Water Reclamation Agency.

He still maintains his license to practice medical optometry and was honored as the 2017 Eye Doctor of the Year for Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. In his spare time, he is a rangemaster and certified small arms instructor at the Livermore-Pleasanton Rod & Gun Club.

As Livermore's mayor, Kamena put his stamp on a number of major projects, including a performing arts center, efforts to extend BART to Livermore, gaining an agreement with Pleasanton to extend Stoneridge Drive to connect with Jack London Boulevard at El Charro Road, firming up plans and securing funding to widen Highway 84 between interstates 580 and 680, and working to keep the veterans hospital and care center open in east Livermore.

He is also credited with creating a Tri-Valley coalition that has effectively pushed for county, state and federal recognition and assistance as a regional political force.

Neighborly cooperation and mutual respect were not always common here. At one time, Dublin, Livermore and Pleasanton, like other neighboring cities, were often at each other's throats with a few lawsuits thrown in over commercial and residential growth issues, boundary lines, congested roadways and airport noise.

"Marshall came to me right after he was elected mayor to talk about ending all that and developing a way in which we could work together for the good of the whole region," said former Dublin mayor Janet Lockhart. "He's the one who stimulated the rest of us to create a regional vision. We did, and it's worked."

Hero FYI

* While serving his first term on the Livermore City Council in 1976, Dr. Kamena heard about other California cities starting their own community television stations and worked with Pleasanton leaders to create Tri-Valley Community Television (now Channel 30).

* When his mayor's term ended 35 years later, along with his position as president of the TV30 board, Kamena established the nonprofit TV30 Foundation, where he continues to serve in an unpaid volunteer position as its president.

* Kamena is credited with creating a Tri-Valley coalition that has effectively pushed for county, state and federal recognition and assistance as a regional political force.

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