Michael G. Harris, Pleasant Hill Mayor

Pleasant Hill Mayor Harris looks back, from Community Service Days to seniors and students

Michael G. Harris, Pleasant Hill MayorEditor’s note: This is the second of the mayor’s three farewell columns.

PLEASANT HILL, CA (Nov. 21, 2022) — I am extremely proud of what Pleasant Hill has accomplished during my 20 years on the City Council.

As the newcomer, I met with city staff and community leaders to get a better understanding of the issues facing Pleasant Hill. I combined that with my experience from Moraga to become a very active councilmember from the get-go.

I’ve always believed that community service was a participatory sport. In my first term as mayor in 2005, I came up with the idea of an annual Community Service Day. Many communities do cleanups, but my concept went far beyond that. I wanted to create projects that would not just beautify Pleasant Hill but make it a better place to live and raise a family.

Community Service Day

Volunteers ready to ‘Build a Better Pleasant Hill’
Volunteers fix up donated bikes at Pleasant Hill’s Community Service Day. (Pete Cruz photo)

Thanks to the Civic Action Commission and staff, the first Community Service Day included school cleanup and beautification, tree planting, neighborhood cleaning, a food drive, a blood drive and bicycle donations, to name a few. More than 250 people volunteered to help on that day.

We met early in the morning at Pleasant Hill Park, where our good friends from the Lions Club provided a free pancake breakfast. Participants received a commemorative T-shirt and then went off to their respective projects. We had great support from many community businesses.

The following year, we had more than 600 volunteers and two dozen projects. Churches, PTAs, Scouts, garden clubs, Friends of the Creek and other community organizations all participated.

This year, we celebrated our 18th annual Community Service Day, and it was another huge success for our town.

Senior Summit

My following term as mayor, I started the Senior Summit, an opportunity for seniors in our community to get resources to help them thrive and stay healthy and safe.

As a lifelong educator, education and improving the lives of our children are driving forces for me. I recognized that the school district could benefit from volunteer help in educating our kids. In my third term as mayor, I started the Pleasant Hill Education Initiative, a multiyear community wide effort to enhance the quality of education for Pleasant Hill students.

Our objectives were to provide additional educational opportunities, prepare students for college and career, increase graduation rates and make learning more fun. Every organization in the city participated in one way or another. Dozens of volunteers became reading tutors for first and second graders. The initiative later merged into the Foundation for Pleasant Hill Education, which has continued to support our schools.

I also volunteered to read in every elementary school and participate in other activities at the middle schools and high school. A reading session with third graders at Valhalla stimulated me to start the Pleasant Hill Mock City Council, which I discussed last month.

I also started a Mayor for the Day program for school fundraisers. These young mayors were fantastic. To say we have many future leaders among our children is an understatement.

Please stay tuned for my final column next month.

Email questions and comments for Mayor Harris to mharris4ph@gmail.com