Mary V. King, an Oakland native who was the first African American on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and served as AC Transit general manager, died on Sunday at the age of 69.
“Mary King’s passing is a tremendous loss to the East Bay, and she will be greatly missed. I had the privilege of seeing her just a few weeks ago and continued to be impressed by her drive and commitment to others and her community,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “Mary was a true trailblazer and advocate for efficient and accessible transportation for all. She will be greatly missed, but her legacy lives on in our hearts and in our community.”
“Aside from her political courage, professional accomplishments and unwavering concern for the less fortunate, Mary was my close friend of more than 30 years. Our families were intertwined through many joys and sorrow. While it is true that life goes on, our lives will be decidedly different without Mary. But how grateful I am for the times we had together — full of grace, generosity and genuine grit,”said Gay Plair Cobb, CEO of the Oakland Private Industry Council.
Oakland City Councilmember Desley Brooks described King as “a true champion of the people – brilliant, trailblazer, mentor, visionary, quick-witted, compassionate, inspirational teacher.”
“Words don’t adequately describe the person or the life that Mary King lived. She touched so many people in so many ways known and unknown,” said Brooks.
She began her political career leading a county tax initiative to create new funding sources for public transportation. In 1988, she was elected as an Alameda County Supervisor.
She was re-elected twice and served as board president for two years. The policies she authored included what was know as the “The King Plan” – a land-use amendment to the County General Plan to protect open-space while maintaining sustainable development in unincorporated areas –now considered a model for smart growth.
She also worked to improve economic conditions and social services for lower income residents, promoting health and education, and youth violence prevention programs. The Mary V. King Health Education Center at the Eastmont Wellness Center in Oakland is named in her honor.
King chaired several community-based and regional committees, including the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Bay Bridge Design Task Force. She worked as chief of staff to California State Legislator, Bill Lockyer; chief of staff to Oakland Mayor, Lionel J. Wilson; and later an assistant to Oakland City Manager Henry Gardner.
When she left office in 2001, King became a private consultant specializing in government affairs, regional housing, land-use and transportation issues.
In 2004, she was recruited to become the assistant general manager for communications and external affairs at AC Transit District.
In 2009, she was appointed to head the transit district as general manager.
King has been given the 2014 Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) Grand Award in recognition of her leadership as chair of the Bay Bridge Design Task Force, which oversaw the selection of the suspension element of the new East Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
Among other honors, she received the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials; the “Allen E. Broussard Memorial Award for Outstanding Humanitarianism” from the Alameda County Bar Association; and was named “Legislator of the Year” in 1992 by the Association of Retarded Citizens.
King was born May 29, 1946. She is survived by her two daughters Kimberly and Victoria M. King, and her two grandchildren, Cora and Joshua King.
The funeral mass will be held at noon, Nov. 27 at Cathedral of Christ the Light, 2121 Harrison St., Oakland.