Tributes to former Mayor Ken Mercer | January 24, 2014 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - January 24, 2014

Tributes to former Mayor Ken Mercer

A memorial service for former Mayor Ken Mercer will be held at 1 p.m. tomorrow at the Pleasanton Senior Center. Mr. Mercer died Jan. 14 at the age of 71. Scores of messages have been sent to the Pleasanton Weekly in praise of the former mayor, who served our community as a City Councilman and Mayor for 16 years. We printed many last week; here are more:

Deborah Acosta McKeehan, City Manager 1990-2005: If you are like me, you love Pleasanton. It is a community with beautiful friendly neighborhoods, Fortune 500 companies and a quaint downtown. There are many people who have contributed over decades to Pleasanton's success as a premier place to live and work. Some of those individuals were elected and some were city employees, but Ken Mercer stands tall among the group.

Ken Mercer was elected to the City Council and to the position of Mayor but he was not a politician. He did not make decisions by considering how many people would vote for him if he supported an idea. He instead considered the facts and always did what he thought was best for the community and the region regardless of what the personal impact might be to him. He did however, encourage debate and even appointed those who did not share his views to committees and task forces. He always told the truth and got his points across with details and humor.

In an era when others would have shied away from hiring the city's first woman City Manager Ken took it on with grace and conviction once he and the City Council believed they had found the best candidate. I'm glad I had the opportunity to work for and with him. For that I will be forever grateful. He provided me the opportunity to serve this community for fifteen years and it is one of the highlights of my life. He let me lead without interference but only provided his input when he thought it appropriate. I personally will miss Ken deeply. He will remain forever one of the icons in

Pleasanton history.

Robert W. Byrd: I'm truly saddened by the passing of former Pleasanton Mayor Ken Mercer. Most Pleasanton citizens today didn't even live in Pleasanton during Ken's 16 years of public service (1976-1992), but those who did know that Ken's accomplishments are the major reasons why we all live in and love Pleasanton today. Many politicians use words like visionary to describe themselves only to have those words ring hollow once elected. Ken used deeds rather than words and will be greatly missed by those who knew him.

Scott Raty. President/CEO, Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce: Ken Mercer is atop my list of city leaders who have had the most profound positive impact on Pleasanton as we know it today. He embraced the responsibility of leadership, loved a challenge, always did his homework, and in a fair and balanced manner acted in the best interest of the total community. He knew firsthand how important a vibrant business community and strong local economy were to our quality of life.

As a young Council member in the late 70's Ken participated in very tough decisions to cut city staff and turn off street lights to prevent the city from going broke; hard to imagine today, but true. In the years that followed, Ken was instrumental with development of Stoneridge Mall, Hacienda and other business parks, helping to create jobs and a healthy, diverse tax base. In fact, Ken was at the helm when Pleasanton voters were asked to plow surplus tax revenue back into the community rather than take refunds. With overwhelming support from the community, Pleasanton Middle School, its double gymnasium, the one just like it at Harvest Park Middle School, the Pleasanton Library and the Valley Avenue undercrossing were built with those surplus tax dollars.

Ken's business savvy, passion for Pleasanton and tireless work ethic throughout the 80's and early 90's helped transform Pleasanton into one of the most desirable places in the country in which to live, work and raise a family. After stepping away from elected office in 1992 he continued to serve in volunteer leadership capacities for the Chamber of Commerce, Tulancingo Sister City Association, GASIT, and countless fundraisers, especially those that gave him the chance to flip burgers or steaks on the Lickety Spit BBQ. It's hard to imagine Pleasanton without Ken, I will forever be grateful for his friendship and profound positive impact.

Former Mayor Tom Pico: Ken and I disagreed on a number of issues regarding the growth that Pleasanton was experiencing in the 1990's. I ran against him twice for public office and he beat me both times. He was the major power in Pleasanton politics for the 16 years that he held elected office, with the city undergoing a major metamorphosis from a sleepy small town to a major retail, employment and housing center. We can thank him for helping create the strong economic base that allows us to have and maintain the quality of life that we enjoy today. One of his qualities I most admired was his willingness to appoint political opponents to committee's and commissions, with his appointment of Ben Tarver to the Planning Commission and myself to the Redevelopment Committee being the most notable. Among his major accomplishments was the building of the Senior Center and the new Library building that will serve us well into the future.

Former Mayor Bob Philcox: I was Mayor when Ken was elected to City Council and he quickly became a significant asset to the group. As a young man he had cut his teeth in politics as an aide to Assemblyman Carlos Bee and he approached his work as a Councilman with great passion. We worked together on Stoneridge Mall and Hacienda Business Park and his efforts in bringing those projects to fruition were exemplary. He had many attributes that made him successful. He was determined, tenacious and dedicated. He became an energetic force in bringing business to Pleasanton while representing the people as well.

He cared about everyone and all the neighborhoods and became Mr. Pleasanton. He was well respected in our Tri-Valley by the other elected officials and always put Pleasanton first on any negotiations, of which there were many. In his 16 years of leadership, he helped make Pleasanton the Star in the Bay Area's crown. It was indeed a pleasure to work with him and to become a close friend. He approached his personal life in the same manner and was a valuable employee to whomever he worked for.

Brad Hirst, Equity Enterprises: Ken was a True ALL-STAR. He made Pleasanton a better place to live, work and do business. More importantly, he made everyone around him a better person. He was obviously a very skilled and competent leader of people. Ken was the most organized person I ever met. He was a master delegator. He knew change was inevitable. He embraced it and made it work well for the entire community. Of all his accomplishments he most cherished was the Youth Sports Park.

Ken was truly a caring and generous person to everyone .No matter if you were a state official, CEO, food service worker, or floor assistant at ClubSport, he was Ken and all were treated with respect. Obviously he will be greatly missed. The challenge to all of us is to continue his legacy of generosity, consideration and vision. Most important to Ken was his love of family, especially his grandchildren.

Chris Miller, Pleasanton Military Families: I knew recently that he had cancer in many places in his body and when I talked with him he was hopeful that the radiation treatment that he was going to go through would be successful, but that was not to be. He was perhaps the greatest Mayor that Pleasanton has ever had.


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