Standing tall in Todos Santos

City Councilman Ron Leone, left, dedicates the Don Salvio Pacheco statue on July 4th. Artist Paula Slater and Carol Longshore of the Historical Society are on the right. The statue was funded entirely with donations with $55,000 to spare. (Photo by Tamara Steiner)

In early 2016, my wife Maria and I saw a bronze statue of U.S. Vice President Schuyler Colfax (1869-’73) at the train station in Colfax. I thought this was impressive, and I was inspired to bring a statue of city founder Don Salvio Pacheco to Concord.

I said to Maria: “This small town of approximately 2,000 people was able to raise a majestic statue of their town’s namesake. Why doesn’t our city of Concord, with a population of about 130,000, have a statute of our founder?”

Concord was founded in 1868, so I figured the statue would be a great way to celebrate the 150th anniversary in 2018.

When I got back into town, I contacted a foundry in Berkeley to find out approximately how much it would cost to have an artist design and create a statue and for the foundry to cast it in bronze. Considering the base and prep work, I estimated that we would need to raise about $150,000.

I knew that my fellow City Council members wouldn’t want to take money out of the city’s general fund for this project, so I talked with city manager Valerie Barone. We agreed that even though I would need to raise the money through donations, the council had to give its support to erect the statue on city property in Todos Santos Plaza.

I contacted Carol Longshore, president of the Concord Historical Society (CHS). She liked the idea of a CHS-city partnership but was concerned that fundraising might interfere with CHS’s efforts to complete its Event Center.

I convinced her that the statue would give CHS great publicity and that we would be able to raise additional money for its project as well. I then asked several civic leaders to join the new Sesquicentennial Committee, which Longshore and I co-chaired.

The committee voted to accept the logo that I designed for our 150th Founding Anniversary. We approved pricing sponsorships for donors and the plaques that would adorn the statue’s base, along with the type of bricks, pavers and granite base.

We selected Napa County artist Paula Slater because of her historically realistic renditions and her close proximity. We also decided to add two time capsules to the project.

The committee sold 560 dedication bricks at $150 each, raising $84,000. I also secured $50,000 from PG&E. Justin Ezell, Concord’s director of Public Works, got the construction company to donate about $20,000 worth of its time for the foundation work.

We dedicated the statue at noon on July 4, after our parade. At the unveiling, I presented a check for $55,000 to CHS with the extra money we were able to raise.