By MIKE BRENNLER
On March 19, 2018 the Atascadero community lost a wonderful and spirited advocate. Joan O’Keefe passed away in Visalia. She had been staying with her daughter, after experiencing a couple of years of deteriorating health.
I had the fortune of meeting Joan in 2006 when I had run for the Atascadero City Council. Joan was also the chairperson of the planning commission in the year I served as mayor.
Joan was a passionate advocate for maintaining Atascadero’s natural beauty and served as a board member for the Atascadero Land Preservation Society which incorporated in 1991. She also served on the committee supporting the care and preservation of Atascadero’s native trees and on the planning commission since 2003.
In addition, Joan was a great advocate for the improvement and relocation of our city library.
Upon meeting her, I quickly learned that Joan had tremendous institutional knowledge concerning city government and function. Although we didn’t always agree on some issues, I found her advice extremely valuable in helping to educate me concerning planning and development matters.
Joan had great integrity and little patience with certain governmental behaviors that detracted from our city’s welfare. She was spirited in advocation of ethical behavior in government and safeguarding the public’s tax dollars. She was a true steward of public trust.
Without exception, Joan O’Keefe was one of most down to earth and principled public officials I have ever known, and it was my honor to have benefited from her friendship and counsel.