Michael G. Harris, Pleasant Hill Mayor

Retiring Pleasant Hill mayor reviews progress since 1999

Michael G. Harris, Pleasant Hill MayorPLEASANT HILL, CA (Nov. 1, 2022) — I will be retiring from the Pleasant Hill City Council this December after completing my 20th year on the council and my fifth term as mayor. Before that, I’d like to reflect on what the city has accomplished during my tenure.

Pleasant Hill was not my first rodeo. I got into public service after I graduated from law school in 1985 while a resident of Moraga. I served six years on the Moraga Planning Commission and then was elected to a four-year term on the Moraga City Council. When I moved to Pleasant Hill after my term, I never thought I’d hold public office again.

But that all changed in 1999 when I was appointed to the Pleasant Hill Planning Commission. What a great opportunity to use my skills and background to help my new hometown. While on the Planning Commission, I was involved in the creation of the new Pleasant Hill downtown. Well, what a change that made to our small city.

Gertrude Stein once said of Oakland, “There is no there there.” Many had said the same thing about Pleasant Hill before the new downtown – but they couldn’t say that now that we had a community gathering place, a large movie complex, and lots of great restaurants and shops in one central location.

More recently, I was involved in redeveloping the out-of-date Ward’s shopping center into the family-friendly Crossroads (Kohl’s) Shopping Center we have today.

One of earliest experiences as a council member was chairing the city’s General Plan Advisory Committee. A large group of stakeholders was involved in helping determine what our city would look like for the next two decades. It was a challenging, exciting and important contribution to help our city move forward during the next 20 years. And now, the city is in the process of renewing the General Plan for the next several decades.

At the same time, because of my experience as a professor and policy maker at UC Berkeley, I was asked to serve on the Contra Costa County Managed Care Commission – the organization that runs the county’s health-care system. There, I chaired another large commission representing various stakeholders in the county. Our goal was to develop a countywide health-care system that would provide the best health-care possible for county employees and others Contra Costa residents. During my 12 years on that commission, I think we came a long way to meeting that goal.

In 2002, city leaders asked me to run for City Council. I had run an election campaign in Moraga, but running in Pleasant Hill was a whole new experience. The city was more than twice the size of Moraga, with a much more diverse population with significant differences of opinion as to the city’s future direction.

I ran and I won, and so began one of the most significant journeys of my life, serving the residents of this great city. I’ll cover that experience in my next columns.

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