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Former Santa Barbara Mayor Harriet Miller Passes Away Peacefully at 90

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SANTA BARBARA - Former Mayor Harriet Miller (age 90) passed away peacefully on Wednesday, January 6, 2010.  Miller served as Mayor of the City of Santa Barbara from 1995 to 2001.

City officials were saddened by the passing of the former mayor.  According to Mayor Marty Blum, “Harriet cared a great deal about her City and the people trusted her leadership.  She loved the City of Santa Barbara.  As Mayor, she set a high standard of integrity and commitment to public service.”  Friends and colleagues remarked about her tenacity, wit, and perseverance through challenging times.

During her tenure as Mayor, Miller chaired numerous organizations, including the Santa Barbara Association of Governments, the Air Pollution Control District, and various League of California Cities committees.  She was appointed to the City Council in 1987 where she served as a Councilmember until her appointment as Mayor in 1995.  She served on the Housing Authority from 1982 to 1987. 

In addition to numerous local awards, Miller received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the League of California Cities in 2008 for her tireless commitment to community service.  She was a former member of the League of California Cities board of directors and served on the boards of the National League of Cities and Institute for Local Government. 

Miller was actively involved in community organizations and served on the board of directors of the Santa Barbara Center for Performing Arts, Santa Barbara Symphony, Family Services Agency, Community Action Commission, Fighting Back Task Force, Anti-Defamation League, Heath House, the Westside Neighborhood Medical Clinic, Shelter Services for Women, and the Affordable Housing Association for Santa Barbara. She was also member of the Unitarian Society. 

One of her greatest passions was helping local youth, bringing leadership to such projects as the Skateboard Park, the 1235 Teen Center, and the City’s Youth Council.  The Downtown Organization honors an outstanding student each year with an award in her honor, the “Harriet Miller Youth Leadership Award.” 

Prior to her work in Santa Barbara, she served as the superintendent of public instruction for the State of Montana and as the director of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) in Washington, D.C.  President Carter appointed her to serve on the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHA) and other federal commissions.  She received a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Whitman College, a Master’s degree in political science from the University of Pennsylvania, and an Honorary Doctorate from Whitman College. 

The flag in De la Guerra Plaza will fly at half-staff in her honor.  Details on a memorial service will be issued at a later date. 

-Nina Johnson

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