Born in San Francisco and reared in Sunnyvale, Gonzales graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 1973. In these early years, he was recognized as a Ford Foundation Fellow. After working for the City of Santa Clara, Gonzales was elected to the Sunnyvale City Council in 1979, twice serving as mayor during his eight years. During this period, Sunnyvale attracted much attention as one of the best run cities in the nation-an honor recognized later by President Clinton.
Concurrent with his city council service, Gonzales worked as the market program manager at Hewlett-Packard. In 1982 he attended Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, studying at the Mayor's Leadership Institute.
Gonzales was elected in 1988 to represent District 3 on the Board of Supervisors. He joined the board with a reputation as an independent politician who understood the business practices of high technology and industry. While on the board, Supervisor Gonzales led efforts to fundamentally change the operations of county government. With reorganization and implementation of better technology, Gonzales hoped to improve efficiency in the face of budget cuts and make services more accessible to the public. County departments were asked to operate more like private businesses and competitively bid for funds.
Gonzales served as Mayor of San José, the Capital of Silicon Valley and the nation’s 10th largest city from 1999-2006. Ron's achievements as Mayor included nationally recognized initiatives for strong neighborhoods, improved public education, and effective solutions to affordable housing and regional transportation projects. Mayor Gonzales may be best known for championing the extension of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) to San Jose and Silicon Valley. So much so, that former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown nicknamed him “Mayor BART”.
Gonzales went on to become President and CEO of the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley. He post-elected office civic involvement included serving on the Board of Trustees for Notre Dame de Namur University, Board of Directors for Save The Bay, Vice Chair of the Silicon Valley Capital Club Board of Governors, Board Chair for [email protected], and Board Member of KIPP Bay Area Public Charter Schools.
Ron Gonzales was featured in our Interview Project, highlighting the life and accomplishments of select Santa Clara County Supervisors.Supervisor Ron Gonzales Interview