A Tribute to Hal Conklin

I was so sorry to hear about the passing of former mayor Hal Conklin. Although he had been out of office for over 26 years, Hal was still respected all over this country for his civic leadership. When he was removed from office in 1994 because of city term limits, he had served as President of the League of California Cities and was elected to be the next president of the National League of Cities in 1995. Such a great honor for Hal, but he would tell you it was a great honor for the people of our city.

Hal’s ego always took a back seat to his dedication to Santa Barbara and the pride he had in our great city. He would have been a great mayor, but that was not to be. Hal kept his civic engagement and love for the City of Santa Barbara high in his sights for the rest of his life.

In 2002 when I was sworn in as mayor, I asked for some advice from Hal. He graciously met with me at the Wine Cask downtown. What great advice he gave me about putting the residents first, listening, and being a problem solver. Loved all of it.

Hal left his mark on this city, 17 years in office, and on this mayor as my mentor and my hero. I will miss his friendly smile, his stories of the great things that are happening under his leadership — the trees he was planting in Madagascar for example! Hal was right about his advice to a new mayor, about his vision for Santa Barbara, and probably about those trees in Madagascar. Now Hal Conklin can finally rest at the Old Mission. Rest in peace, my friend.

Marty Blum was mayor of the City of Santa Barbara from 2002-2010.

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