Ron Gonzales

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Ronald R. Gonzales
63rd Mayor of San Jose
In office
January 1, 1999[1] – January 9, 2007
Preceded by Susan Hammer
Succeeded by Chuck Reed
Santa Clara County Supervisor
In office
Preceded by Tom Legan
Succeeded by Peter McHugh
Personal details
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Guiselle Nunez
Alma mater UC Santa Cruz, B.A.
Profession Politician

Ronald R. Gonzales (born 1951) is an American politician and member of the Democratic Party, who served as the 63rd Mayor of San Jose, California. Gonzales was the first Hispanic Mayor of San Jose since California became a U.S. state in 1850.


Gonzales grew up in the Santa Clara Valley, and graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He also completed the Mayor's Leadership Program at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and is an American Leadership Forum fellow. Gonzales served as a two-time mayor and member of the Sunnyvale City Council from 1979 to 1987. He then served for eight years (1989–1996) on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. After leaving the board due to term limits, Gonzales was an executive at Hewlett-Packard. Gonzales worked as Program Manager for ten years at Hewlett-Packard where he led a national initiative to create partnerships with local school districts and universities.[2]

In 1998, Gonzales was elected Mayor of San Jose, being sworn in during 1999. Early in his first term, Gonzales began new programs designed to attract young teachers to the city's schools, including home purchase assistance programs. Gonzales has also pushed for BART to extend to Downtown San Jose, and has advocated using San Jose Redevelopment Agency funds in areas outside Downtown, including the King and Story neighborhood. Gonzales had an affair with an intern, Guiselle Nunez, whom he later married. Ron Gonzales was elected the first Latino Mayor of San Jose since California's Statehood. Gonzales became one of the first Hispanic mayors of a major U.S. city in 1999, and was listed among the nation's "Most influential Hispanics". He addressed the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. Mayor Gonzales launched into a speech extolling the virtues of California's famed "Silicon Valley" in general and San Jose in particular.[3]

Gonzales was reelected as mayor in the March 2002 primary election. His second, and final, term as San Jose mayor ended in 2006. On January 28, 2004, while delivering the State of the City address, Gonzales suffered a stroke. He returned to his duties on February 16 of that year. Gonzales stayed out of the race to succeed him and did not endorse or campaign for either candidate running in the November 2006 run-off election. The winner was Chuck Reed – who won a clear majority of the votes over the vice-Mayor of San Jose, Cindy Chavez.

Gonzales received the Community Impact Award in June 1999 from the Asian Law Alliance,[4] as well as the Point of Light Award, a national honor given to individuals who have made significant contributions to their community. Gonzales founded of The Role Model Program, an effort that recruits adult role models to visit local middle schools [1]. He also chairs the National League of Cities Youth, Education, and Families Council overseeing the League's policies related to the betterment of youth and families across the country [2], and was a founding board member of Downtown College Prep, Santa Clara County’s first charter high school, which focuses on the academic success of high school students from the San Jose central city area.

Criticism and controversy[edit]

Norcal incident[edit]

In 2003, Gonzales and his top aide, Joe Guerra, negotiated an agreement for a nine-percent, $11 million increase in garbage rates for garbage hauler Norcal Waste Systems, Inc., then advocated the rate increase before the San Jose City Council, which approved the plan. However, he did not inform the Council of a quid pro quo arrangement by which the company would use the money to increase wages of its unionized Teamsters workers, who were part of Gonzales' political power base.

In June 2005, the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury issued a report on the incident.[5] An independent investigator released a subsequent report,[6] finding Gonzales to have misled the public and violated the city charter's ethics provisions.

Council member Dave Cortese demanded Gonzales's resignation,[7] and member Chuck Reed began proceedings to remove Gonzales from his office as mayor. The Council voted to censure Gonzales for his dealings in the garbage scandal, but took no further actions. On January 11, 2006, the mayor resigned from several committees that he chaired.

A grand jury indicted Gonzales for bribery and other charges [8] and he was prosecuted over the incident. However, a judge later threw out all charges, on the basis that the prosecution's claims were novel as a matter of law, and even if true, did not amount to illegal activity. In the court's opinion, the judge wrote "This is not bribery, this is politics."[9]


Ron Gonzales, who was married at the time to Alvina Gonzales, had an affair with then-25-year-old staffer Guisselle Nuñez. The romance was exposed in the weekly newspaper Metro.[10] In a press conference the morning that Metro’s article appeared, Gonzales disavowed the relationship, claiming it was over. After Nuñez had resigned and the mayor divorced, she and Gonzales married.[11]

Silicon Valley PAC[edit]

In 2002, Mayor Ron Gonzales created the Silicon Valley Leadership PAC [12] and started collecting donations for this fund. In March 2004 Gonzales announced he would stop collecting donations because of controversy about the fund. Gonzales was criticized for a contract with Cisco Systems after an auditor sent a memo to the mayor's office.[13]


  1. ^ "Mayor Gets Clean Start in San Jose, Inauguration Opens Era of Possibility". San Jose Mercury News. 1999-01-12. Retrieved 2012-01-22. 
  2. ^ "Biography of Ron Gonzales" New York Times
  3. ^ "Passing the Torch" The First Session of the 43rd Democratic National Convention August 15, 2000
  4. ^ Asian Law Alliance Celebrates 22 Years ALA Newsletter June 1999
  5. ^ 2004-2005 Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury Report
  6. ^ Initial Report of the Independent Investigator
  7. ^ "San Jose councilman calls for mayor's resignation" Mercury News article December 8, 2005
  8. ^ Grand Jury transcripts
  9. ^ John Coté (June 13, 2007). "Corruption charges dismissed against ex-mayor". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  10. ^ WIll Harper & Dan Pulcrano (2000-09-07). "Office Romance? No Comment". Metro Silicon valley. Retrieved September 8, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Gonzales admits to relationship with staffer" Willow Glen Resident September 13, 2000
  12. ^ California Secretary of State Campaign Finance Information Silicon Valley Leadership PAC Filings 2001 - 2002
  13. ^ "Cisco at center of city contract controversy" CNET August 4, 2004

External links[edit]