Elihu M. Harris: The Independent Institute

The Power of Independent Thinking

Elihu M. Harris
Elihu M. Harris

Elihu M. Harris served as the 46th Mayor of Oakland, California (1991–1999), and he previously served for 12 years as a member of the California State Assembly (1978–1990). He has also served as Chancellor of Peralta Community College District (1978–1991) and a California Uniform Law Commissioner and on the California Unemployment Appeals Board.

In addition to his public service, he has been Partner in the law firm of Harris, Alexander and Burris, has co-owned two radio stations, and is the owner of the Harris Funeral Home in Berkeley, California, with his wife, Dr. Shiela Wells Harris. Harris earned a B.A. in political science from California State University, Hayward, where he served as student body Vice-President, a Master of Public Policy from University of California, Berkeley, and a J.D. from the University of California, Davis. A member of the Democratic Party, Harris was Oakland's second black mayor, and the Elihu M. Harris State Office Building in downtown Oakland is named after him.

As Mayor of Oakland, Harris was responsible for the return of the Raiders to Oakland in 1995, and he also caused the reconstruction of Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena, where the Golden State Warriors won four NBA titles and appeared in the NBA Finals five times. He further presided over the development of City Center Oakland, green-lit the Rotunda Oakland, and created what is now called The Uptown Entertainment District. He worked to bring jobs to Oakland and in projects large and small, from buildings like the Ask.com structure to the second Cirque du Soleil event ever held in America. He also spearheaded, with Oakland Councilmember Richard Spees, the creation of The Chabot Science Center.