Paso Robles Mayor Steve W. Martin has passed away, the city announced Tuesday. Martin died on August 14 at the age of 71 after a battle with cancer.
“Steve was a trusted colleague, a good friend, a thoughtful leader, and the ultimate public servant,” said Paso Robles Mayor Pro tempore John Hamon. “It has been an honor to serve with him these many years. His passing is a great loss for the City Council, our community, and most especially his family. Our prayers are with his wife Jennifer, daughters, grandchildren, and extended family.”
Martin grew up in Atascadero and moved to Paso Robles in 1973. He carved out a successful career in marketing and communications. He was first elected to the city council in 1987 and served for nearly a decade. He returned to the council in 2012 and was elected mayor two years later. Martin went on to win re-election twice, most recently in November 2022.
“Mayor Martin's impact extended far beyond his role in local government,” said City Manager Ty Lewis. “He was deeply involved in numerous civic organizations and philanthropic efforts, always striving to uplift the less fortunate and address social challenges. His compassion and dedication to public service made a lasting difference in the lives of countless individuals, leaving an indelible mark on the fabric of our community.”
Before his passing, Martin wrote the following farewell letter, which was read aloud before Tuesday’s council meeting:
Paso Robles Council, commissioners, city staff, friends in the Chamber of Commerce, Paso Robles Main Street, PRWCA, Hispanic Business Association, political colleagues, friends and supporters, people of Paso Robles:
I have asked Tom O’Malley, a longtime friend and former Mayor of Atascadero, to deliver this message. We worked together for 10 years when I served as the executive director of Main Street in Atascadero, then teamed up as “Dos Alcaldes” (Two Mayors) to create a strong partnership between our cities; a partnership that continues to flourish with the support of current Atascadero Mayor Heather Moreno.
For months, you have noticed my absence at meetings and public functions. As I prepared to resume the position of mayor for a third consecutive term, I learned that I had an aggressive form of cancer.
Initial analysis indicated that surgery within a couple of months would probably cure me. Unfortunately, complications intervened, giving the cancer the opportunity to spread and become incurable.
As I write this, I expect to have little time left in this world. I wish for everyone to know that I had no idea of what was happening in my body as I campaigned for office. If that was the case, I would never have run or would have dropped out of the race. I have made every effort to do my job as mayor while fighting this disease, attending meetings virtually, receiving updates from staff, etc. What I have included in this note will fall far short of all I wish to say to you.
I am a man of two cities, having grown up in Atascadero and lived my adult life in Paso Robles.
I am a man of a simple purpose, however, and that is to serve my North County community and treat everyone, supporter, and detractor alike, with dignity, compassion, and respect. I trust I have succeeded most of the time. To those who feel I have failed, I ask your forgiveness. To those who now feel they may have wronged me, I offer my forgiveness.
I face the future with regrets about all I leave unfinished: spaceport, solutions for homelessness, serving as a board member for League of California Cities, Community Hospital Board, broadband access, and all the projects with our city’s partners, committees, and community service organizations. I also face the future with wonderful memories of family, friends, and colleagues. I feel honored to have worked with such caring and competent council members and such talented and dedicated staff.
I am also humbled and thankful for the outpouring of support from so many who have wished me well, most not really knowing the challenges I faced. Thank you all for your love and caring.
As a Christian, I move toward the rest of God’s plan for me even as I wave goodbye to everyone and everything. He has provided during my lifetime including my wonderful, loving wife Jennifer; my beautiful, talented, and accomplished daughters Nora, Jamie, and spiritual daughter Keri; my sons-in-law Todd and Paul; my grandchildren Abigail, Steven, Malcolm, Caleb; my parents and my brother and sisters; and my solid family of lifelong friends. I love you all and hope to see you all again one fine day.
I thank Tom O’Malley for helping me share these thoughts. Serving as mayors at the same time was a luxury and a privilege. We were always good therapists for each other as we worked to make our cities even more beautiful and desirable places to live, work, and play, sharing a glass of chardonnay along the way.
Now, as always, I hold all of you and our community in my heart, urging you to let your differences be subordinate to your desire to care for one another. Remember to stay informed, stay involved, and stay strong, Paso Robles. God bless you all and farewell.