For most of my life, I have been involved in community service in one way or another. As a boy, I was a member of the Boy Scouts and attained the rank of Eagle. In high school, I was active in student government, serving in many capacities including junior class president. And now, in my adult life, I have had the honor and privilege of serving the citizens of Martinez as a planning commissioner, councilmember, and mayor.
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family that was very involved in community and public service. My father served on the Walnut Creek City Council and the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors for over thirty years. I was taught at a very young age how important it is for every member of the community to give back in some way. But even with that background and upbringing, there were times I would say, “Why isn’t the city doing this or that?” or “This is the responsibility of the city, not mine.” It was not until I was placed in a position of some authority in local government that I realized solving problems and meeting needs is not just the responsibility of local government, but the cooperative effort of local citizens, businesses, and industry working together with local government to meets the needs of the community.
A shining example of the local business community working for the betterment of our overall community is Shell Oil. Shell has been a part of the Martinez community since building their first refinery in the United States in 1915. Shell currently employs over 700 people, has between 200 and 300 contractors, and pays over $20 million in property taxes (which, unfortunately, we have to share with the county and state). Many of Martinez’ pioneer families have been employed by Shell, now and in the past.
Besides providing employment to many people in Contra Costa County, Shell has proved itself to be a valued member of the Martinez community through their social performance goals: responsibility - being a responsible corporate citizen and building a culture of safety and community sensitivity; leadership - through community projects, being an integral part of the fabric of the community; and engagement – working with local government and civic groups to understand local concerns.
Most recently, Shell’s General Manager Paul Gabbard presented the Martinez City Council and me with a contribution of $500,000 for improvements in the Martinez waterfront and marina. This show of support for the sensitive Martinez waterfront shows Shell’s commitment to the preservation and enhancement of a major community asset. In addition, Shell contributes over $300,000 in other community activities each and every year. Shell’s signature event,
Shell/MEF Run for Education, has raised over $300,000 alone for the Martinez Unified School District since its inception in 2003.
Besides monetary contributions, Shell and its employees give of their time and labor. Over one third of Shell employees participated in at least one community project last year and every year since before 2005. At least fifty projects were completed over the last few years including installation of new lights up and down Main Street, improvements to the Martinez Boys & Girls Club, and painting of the Martinez Library, Senior Community Center, Martinez Veterans Memorial Building, and Martinez Museum.
It is this type of corporate culture and community engagement that helps Martinez be the wonderful place that it is. Thank you Shell and the Shell employees for what you do for our community.