|61st Mayor of San Jose, California|
January 9, 1983 – January 9, 1991
|Preceded by||Janet Gray Hayes|
|Succeeded by||Susan Hammer|
McEnery attended Santa Clara University, graduating with a B.A. in 1967 and an M.A. in 1970. After his term in office, he served on the Board of Directors of the San Jose Sharks hockey team and continued to pursue his business & writing career. He co-founded San Jose Inside, a website devoted to the culture and politics of San Jose. McEnery is also part of the ownership group for San Jose Sports & Entertainment Enterprises, which owns the San Jose Sharks of the National Hockey League. He is an owner of the Irish Innovation Center in Downtown San Jose which houses and funds start-up technology ventures.
San Jose's McEnery Convention Center is named in his honor.
- 1 Biography
- 2 References
Early life and career
Tom McEnery was born in San Jose, California on September 23, 1945. His father, John P. "Big John" McEnery, was a member of the Truman administration and Chairman of the California Democratic Party, and an early supporter, confidant, and floor leader for John F. Kennedy at the 1956 and 1960 Democratic Conventions. Tom's maternal grandfather, "Honest Ben" Sellers, was a San Jose city councilman, mayor and leader of the reform movement in the early twentieth century. His other grandfather, Patrick McEnery, was editor of the San Jose Mercury Herald.
Attending local schools, including Bellarmine College Preparatory, McEnery earned a BA in business administration and an MA in history from Santa Clara University. His master’s thesis was on Michael Collins, Irish freedom fighter and the architect of Irish independence. He was a Presidential Fellow at Santa Clara University and lectured for two years at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. He is a prime mover in the Irish Technology Leadership Group chaired by for Intel CEO, Craig Barrett.
McEnery was President of the family business—the pioneer retail and commercial Farmers Union Corporation—and a spokesman for controlled growth and downtown revitalization as Chairman of the San Jose Planning Commission and a member of the San Jose City Council. He was elected Mayor of San Jose in a landslide victory in the primary of 1982.
As mayor of San Jose, California
As mayor of San Jose, Tom McEnery led America’s tenth largest city for two terms. He presided over an explosion of growth and optimism in San Jose and was rated “the most powerful person in Silicon Valley” by the San Jose Mercury News. As “the youngest big-city mayor in the country,” McEnery’s key goals were the rebuilding of a viable downtown, fostering economic development, augmenting the police force, and developing youth programs. During his tenure, a new tax base and a new skyline emerged.
The Silicon Valley Business Hall of Fame selected McEnery as its first politician inductee and Focus magazine put him on the 100-member Bay Area “Brain Trust” in 1995. He was the first American to receive the Lord Mayor’s Award in Dublin, Ireland. The San Jose Tech Museum of Innovation honored him in 1998 as its Inspiration Award Winner. He has been selected as one of the "Top 100" Irish Americans by the magazine "Irish America" & in 2011 was named to the "Silicon Valley 50".
As a partner in Farmers Union at San Pedro Square
As a partner in Farmers Union at San Pedro Square, McEnery led the effort to privately restore many historic San Jose buildings, placing them on the national and city historic registers. San Pedro Square, which includes the Paul Masson Champagne Cellars and the Farmers Union and Lyndon Buildings, has a lively restaurant row, offices and apartments. The San Pedro Square Public Market, opening in Spring 2011, is a longtime dream of the McEnery Family and a key to the vitalized Downtown.
The Clean Government Initiative
A reformist leader, McEnery led the statewide fight for the Clean Government Initiative, which included reasonable term limits for elected officials and campaign finance reform. In 1992, he led a coalition of community groups, city officials and Silicon Valley corporations in working on the problems of drug and gang violence. In 1994 he ran for Congress and lost a close primary election to the eventual winner, Zoe Lofgren. From 1995 to 1998, McEnery hosted the frequently number-one rated radio show in the valley.
Career with the San Jose Sharks
As Vice Chairman of the NHL San Jose Sharks from 1994 to 1999, McEnery helped establish youth programs and the successful Sharks Foundation. In 2002, McEnery, Shark CEO, Greg Jamison & Venture Capitalist Kevin Compton, formed a local group of Silicon Valley investors to purchase the Sharks and associated interests. McEnery served on the first board of the Silicon Valley Sports and Entertainment.
McEnery was a member of California Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Transition Committee in 2003 and San Jose Mayor-elect Chuck Reed’s Transition Group in 2006-7. In 2007, he and Steve Poizner were state co-chairmen of the Voter Reform Initiative. In 2005, he co-founded sanjoseinside.com—a blog dedicated to exploring San Jose politics and culture, and subsequently sold it to Metro Newspaper.
His views on the paths that American cities should take are dealt with in his book The New City State, published in 1994. Other published works are California Cavalier and he co-edited and wrote the introduction to A New Ireland, the story of his friend John Hume’s struggle for Irish peace and reconciliation. The Irish in the Bay Area, an anthology with an essay by McEnery, was published in 2006. McEnery is currently working on a new book on immigrants and the American dream and he teaches and lectures on a limited basis. His columns frequently appear in papers from California to the Irish Times and New Tech Post
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival and Bytes for Belfast
McEnery is the Founding Chairman of the Cinequest San Jose Film Festival which he helped build as Chair for ten years to an internationally regarded festival. He was a founder and trustee of Bytes for Belfast, a program linking Silicon Valley expertise with Northern Ireland community efforts, using new technologies to expand the social and economic opportunities open to the youth in inner-city Belfast and Derry.
Tom McEnery and his wife Jill have three grown daughters, four grandchildren and still reside on the same downtown San Jose street where he was raised and four generations of their families have lived.
- 1997 Metroactive satirical article about McEnery's diaries
- Santa Clara University listing of alumni mayors
- McEnery's blog at San Jose Inside
Janet Gray Hayes
|Mayor of San Jose