Pete Stark’s papers accepted by historical society

The collected papers of former Rep. Pete Stark are about to become part of history at the Hayward Area Historical Society.

Executive directory Myron Freedman said an archivist has begun sifting through 40 years worth of papers, photos and keepsakes at Stark’s district office in Fremont.

“We’re in the process of inventorying what they have and determining what should be in the collection,” he said, adding the task should be done in another six to eight weeks.

“It’s a great addition to the political history … of how the Bay Area has grown, and all the projects that came here as a result of his being in Congress and being such a powerful congressional figure,” Freedman said. “He really is a piece of history.”

Pete StarkStark, D-Fremont, served 20 terms in Congress starting with his election in 1972 and ending with his defeat in November by Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton. When he left office last month at age 81, the former banker was the fifth most senior House member, the sixth most senior member of Congress overall, and dean of California’s 55-member House delegation as well as the second-longest serving Congressman ever to lose a general election.

During his long tenure, Stark developed a reputation as an outspoken advocate for health care access and affordability, serving as chair or ranking member of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee; as an opponent of various wars; and as Congress’ only avowed atheist. He also had a reputation for controversy, as the acerbic tone he took with detractors often led to headline-making quotes. Now retired, he lives with his wife and children in Maryland.

Freedman said the Hayward Area Historical Society’s new museum and research center, expected to open in June on Foothill Boulevard, will include a reading room in which the public can review the Stark collection either by appointment or during drop-in hours one day per week.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • JAFO

    I certainly hope the Hayward Historical Society staff carefully checks the “burn”/”no burn” calendar before they “catalog” all these priceless documents. I suspect most will rightfully be determined to be of very little value, historical or otherwise.

  • RR Senile Columnist

    It is hoped the Stark papers will do for Hayward what the Condit papers have done for Modesto.