Former county supervisor Mike Nevin, a longtime local leader who most recently served as executive director of the county’s service league, died of cancer Dec. 1 at the age of 69.
Nevin is survived by his wife, Kathleen, and children Mike Jr., Michelle and Tim.
"This is a very sad day for all of us in Daly City and the county. My heart is heavy. He was a great visionary and wonderful mentor to me. My thoughts are with his family,” said Adrienne Tissier, president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, who filled Nevin’s vacated position.
Nevin spent 27 years with the San Francisco Police Department, rising to the rank of inspector, before jumping into politics as a Daly City planning commissioner from 1979 to 1982 followed by the Daly City Council in 1982. During his 1984 turn as Daly City mayor, he introduced an economic development program and saw the city recognized as outstanding by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Nevin followed the council with election to the county Board of Supervisors in 1992 and served as president in 1997 and 2001. While serving, he advocated for better transportation, took on the banking industry over its privacy policies, pushed for a ban of gun shows, championed medicinal marijuana trials, health care coverage and looked for creative solutions to community problems.
"Mike was a true old school Democratic politician. He believed in and supported organized labor but most important he was a champion of people in need. He was a true Irish American, Catholic Democratic politician in the best sense of the word. He was a champion of social justice,” said Supervisor Don Horsley who served as sheriff during Nevin’s tenure on the board.
Horsley recalled Nevin fighting to locate a home for developmentally disabled adults in the north end of the county and a similar battle to find a site for a homeless shelter. Nevin told opponents "these are poor people” and they deserve a place out of the cold, Horsley recalled.
Nevin also served numerous boards and commissions during his political career including the Criminal Justice Council of San Mateo County, the Narcotics Task Force, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the San Mateo County Health Center Board of Directors.
After being termed out following 12 years with the Board of Supervisors, Nevin took the helm of the nonprofit Service League of San Mateo County, which provides services to county jail inmates.
"Mike Nevin had public service in his blood and the people he represented are better for it,” said U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Atherton, in a prepared statement.
Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, who served with Nevin on the Board of Supervisors, said he dedicated his life to public service.
"Whether as a beat cop in San Francisco, an inspector for the SFPD, a two-time mayor of the Daly City, a 12-year member of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, or as the executive director of the Service League; Mike focused squarely on the needs of our most vulnerable residents,” Gordon said in a prepared statement. "His legacy in San Mateo County was long-ago cemented in his many years as leader in transportation issues, as well as a passionate advocate for the physically challenged. His faith and his family always guided him, and as his colleague for many years, I appreciated his energy and valued his commitment. My sympathies go out to his wife, Kathy, and their three children.”
Jerry Hill, who will be sworn into the state Senate today, also expressed his sadness at Nevin’s death. Hill also served with Nevin on the Board of Supervisors.
"As Mike Nevin would light up a room when he entered, the glow of San Mateo County was dimmed with his passing. With a heart for everyone, he fought injustice and brought comfort, solace and support to those in need. He was an irreplaceable gifted leader who will be profoundly missed,” Hill said.
Horsley similar recalled Nevin’s gift as an orator, often called on to serve as master of ceremony for nonprofits because of his wit, energy and stage presence.
"He was the most charismatic politician that this county has produced,” Horsley said.
In 2002, Nevin considered a run for the California Assembly but was ineligible after redistricting removed his Daly City house from the 19th District’s borders. He opted not to run rather than move. He later ran unsuccessfully for the District 8 state Senate vacated by now-U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier but failed to secure the Democratic primary. Current state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, won the election.
Speier recalled Nevin as "a giant” in county politics with unbridled passion, boundless compassion and inexhaustible love for those in need.
"Mike had a huge heart and he was proud to show his emotions. How often do you hear someone from law enforcement appeal for understanding on behalf of ex-offenders? Literally with tears in his eyes, Mike would do so. He was wise. He was iconoclastic. He was a leader by example. I loved him and admired him greatly,” Speier said.
In 2004, the North County Health Center was renamed the Mike Nevin Health Center. The clinic joined Mike Nevin Way in Daly City.
Funeral arrangements are pending.