PLEASANT HILL -- Zachary Shess, a marketing professional and volunteer youth baseball coach, is the newest member of the Pleasant Hill Recreation and Park District board.
The board members on Monday appointed Shess to finish the two years left on Cecile Shepard's term. Shepard, who served on the board since her appointment in 1996, resigned abruptly in November.
Seven applicants made pitches to the board, describing the skills and experience they would bring, the challenges facing the recreation district, their ideas for the future and demonstrating their knowledge of the bond measure and the district's finances.
Shess, who spent some of his childhood in Pleasant Hill, returned to the city with his family 10 years ago. He has been a coach and league commissioner with the Pleasant Hill Baseball Association and a volunteer at Pleasant Hill Elementary School, where his youngest son is in the fourth grade.
"The district and its programs have enriched my life and my family's life and I'd like to give back," Shess told the board.
After an initial round of voting, the board reduced the contenders to five -- Shess, former Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce president Matt Rinn, retired IRS manager John Crawford, College Park High School P.E. teacher Jim Keck, and Dawn Block, owner of a headhunting firm.
After a brief discussion about how to proceed, each board member explained his or her vote. Sherry Sterrett chose Keck because she believed he would draw more kids to the teen center and Rinn for his community involvement and marketing experience.
Board president Bobby Glover, who voted for Keck and Shess, said he was looking for someone who would bring the perspective of a parent with children who participate in district programs in addition to someone who could help market the district and increase its revenue.
Dennis Donaghu said he appreciated Crawford's and Shess's professional backgrounds. Sandra Bonato chose Block and Crawford for their community involvement and business experience.
In a second round of voting, Shess received three votes while Keck and Crawford each received two. Bonato's motion to appoint Crawford died for lack of a second. The board then unanimously approved Shess.
"I'm excited, very humbled by the opportunity," said Shess, after general manager Bob Berggren swore him in to office.
Shess said he wants to brand the district's events, such as the annual Blues & Brews Festival.
A supporter of the $28 million bond the district is using to build new teen, senior and community centers, Shess said he wants to spread the word about the new facilities and programs to district residents and those who live farther afield.
Shess earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from San Jose State and is a marketing manager for a Pleasanton construction company. Shess and his wife, Debbie, have two sons, 14-year-old Cole, a freshman at De La Salle High School, and Jackson, 9.
Lisa P. White covers Martinez and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.