Tom McEnery

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Tom McEnery
61st Mayor of San Jose
In office
January 9, 1983 – January 9, 1991
Preceded by Janet Gray Hayes
Succeeded by Susan Hammer
Personal details
Born Thomas Andrew McEnery
(1945-09-23) September 23, 1945 (age 72)
San Jose, California, U.S.

Thomas Andrew McEnery (born September 23, 1945) is an American author, businessman, and teacher from San Jose, California, who served as the 61st mayor of that city from 1983 to 1991.

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 was 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 and Silicon Valley Global in Downtown San Jose which houses and funds start-up technology ventures.[1]

San Jose's McEnery Convention Center is named in his honor.


Early life and career[edit]

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 progressive reform movement in the early twentieth century. His mother, Margaret was a key political influence in the life of each of the three political leaders in her life: father, husband and son. McEnery's 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, who's key lieutenant, Michael McDonnell, worked for his father, John, for many years. McEnery 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[edit]

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[edit]

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, state 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 Market, opened in the fall of 2011, is a longtime dream of the McEnery Family and has been heralded as the key ingredient to the vibrant and revitalized downtown as the catalyst from the thousands of housing units and office development as mayor Sam Liccardo has hailed it, " The San Pedro Square Market is downtown's second renaissance." It is a spectacular historical city center amenity built around the historical Peralta Adobe and Fallon House.

The Clean Government Initiative[edit]

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. From 1995 to 1998, McEnery hosted the frequently number-one rated radio show in the valley.

Career with the San Jose Sharks[edit]

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 until he sold his interest to partner and SAP founder, Hasso Plattner.

Transition groups[edit]

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 San Jose Inside —a blog dedicated to exploring San Jose politics and culture, and subsequently sold it to Metro Newspaper. McEnery was a delegate to the 1980, 1984 and 2000 Democratic Conventions pledged to candidates Ted Kennedy and Bill Bradley.


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 a fictional journal written from the perspective of Thomas Fallon 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 London Times. His short play, Swift Justice, based on the award winning book of the same name, by Harry Farrell, was done at the Tabard Theatre in San Jose in 2015 and is being produced as a full length play in January, 2016. An Irish themed play called "A Statue for Ballybunion" or in Ireland "A Statue for Bill Clinton" premiered in August 2017 in Dublin at the O'Reilly Theatre, directed by Paul Meade and starring John Olohan.

Cinequest San Jose Film Festival and Bytes for Belfast[edit]

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 was recently chosen by USA TODAY as, " the most innovative festival in the world." 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, six grandchildren and still reside on the same downtown San Jose street where he was raised and four generations of their families have lived.


  1. ^ "Staff". San Jose Sharks. Archived from the original on 2007-03-15. Retrieved 2007-04-11. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Janet Gray Hayes
Mayor of San Jose
Succeeded by
Susan Hammer