Santa Clara University

SCU Alumni Mayors

Do you know of an SCU alumnus/a who has served as a mayor and is not listed below? Please let us know. E-mail Editor Margaret Avritt at and we’ll add that person’s name to the list.

Peter Breen ’58

Peter Breen is mayor of San Anselmo, Calif., in Marin County. He traces his life public life to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He was a farmer in Gilroy at the time, and the devastating news prompted him to pack up his VW bus and take up his wife’s profession, social work. He embarked on his new career in Los Angeles, but eventually returned to the Bay Area, becoming welfare director in Marin County, and then finding his way into local politics. " My commitment is to public service and to children’s issues," he says.

Jerry Brown ’59

Jerry Brown was a former governor when he was elected mayor of Oakland in 1998. Also the son of a California governor, he had become the youngest governor in California history in 1974. He ran for president three times. His career also has included serving as secretary of state, working with Mother Theresa in Calcutta, chairing the state Democratic Party and hosting a talk-radio show called "We the People." Brown describe being mayor as more immediate than governing statewide. "If someone built a 20-story office building in downtown Oakland, it’s a big deal because they never did it for 25 years. But in California, it’s like a tree falling in the forest—it’s not even noticeable. That concreteness is just a different scale and a different reality. It’s best described by a less abstract, more immediate set of people and challenges." He says his expansive, out-of-the-box thinking may have started in childhood. "I had mother who was a protestant and a father who was Catholic and that general clash at an early age opened me up to divergent possibilities." Brown entered Santa Clara University in 1955 but left to study for the priesthood at Sacred Heart Novitiate in Los Gatos. When he decided to change course, he earned his degree at the University of California at Berkeley, then a law degree at Yale.

John M. Chargin ’42, J.D. ’48

Served as mayor of Campbell from 1956 to 1958. He also served as campaign manager for Governor Edmund G. "Pat" Brown.

Peter Coniglio ’51

Peter Coniglio was a member of the Monterey City Council from 1969 to 1973 and served as mayor from 1973 to 1977.

Terry Curtola ’61

Terry Curtola was elected to the Vallejo City council in 1968 and at was elected mayor in 1978, serving two terms. As a young man, he managed his father’s restaurant chain, but also wanted to "give back" to his community. He won an appointment to the city Planning Commission and later ran for council. Reflecting on his college years, he says, "The most important thing I got out of Santa Clara was what the Jesuits taught us: If you do the work and you do it correctly and you use good logic you can succeed. I think in the rest of my life I came to the conclusion: don’t be a smart-ass, treat people the way you want to be treated. Do your homework."

Linda (Feinberg) Callon J.D. ’80

Linda Callon is a partner at Berliner Cohen in San Jose. She served as mayor of Saratoga, Calif., from 1980 to 1983. Callon has served on many intergovernmental boards, establishing a wide range of contacts with staff and local government officials. These boards included the County Transportation Commission, Intergovernmental Council and statewide, CalSecda, a joint powers agreement of California cities encouraging energy conservation. 

Thomas J. Ferrito J.D. '68

Thomas Ferrito served three terms as mayor of Los Gatos, Calif. from 1980-81, 1983-84, and 1989-90.

Gary Gillmor ’58

Gary Gillmor was elected mayor of Santa Clara in 1969 and served two terms. A former high school and college civics teacher, he decided to run for office after successfully fighting a development project in his neighborhood. He was elected to the city council in 1965. His tenure coincided with the pre-Silicon Valley zoning and development decisions that laid the groundwork for burgeoning growth. "Most of the issues before us were zoning, because we had farmland," Gillmor said. "Now there’s no land left…When I started, all north of the Bayshore wasn’t developed."

Bill Gissler ’60

Bill Gissler, a civil engineer, was elected to the Santa Clara City Council in 1973, and was elected mayor in 1977, serving two terms.

Russell J. "Rusty" Hammer ’75

Rusty Hammer, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, was elected to the city council in Campbell, Calif., just outside of San Jose, when he was 18 years old in 1972. At the time he was the youngest elected official in U.S. history. He was mayor by the time he was 21, while a junior at SCU—again earning distinction as the youngest to hold that title. He later earned master’s degrees in political science and public administration. Before moving to Los Angeles, Hammer ran the Sacramento Chamber of Commerce.

Tom Hannigan ’62

Tom Hannigan was mayor of Fairfield, Calif., from 1972 to 1974, a period marked by extensive city planning for the area’s future explosive growth. He also served on the Solano County Board of Supervisors and then was elected in 1978 to the California State Assembly, where he became Democratic majority leader. He retired from the Assembly in 1996, and subsequently served as appointed director of the Department of Water Resources.

Marc Hershman J.D. ’84

Marc Hershman is mayor of Millbrae, Calif. He was elected to the City Council in 1997 and re-elected in 1999 and 2003. He served previously as mayor of Millbrae in 2001-2002. Hershman is a practicing attorney with the law firm of Greene, Chauvel, Descalso & Minoletti. He is also an elected director of the San Mateo County Transit District, the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency and the San Francisco Bay Area Regional Water System Financing Authority. In addition, Marc serves as a director on the board of the Millbrae Community Foundation. The Board of Directors of the City/County Association of Governments of San Mateo County has appointed Marc to its Legislative Committee, By-laws Committee and Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Marc also serves as City Council liaison to the Millbrae Library Expansion Committee and the Millbrae Tourism Committee. His priorities for Millbrae include economic development, youth and senior programs, and preserving Millbrae's neighborhoods. Marc lives in Millbrae with his wife Stacie, daughter Elana, and son Jacob.

Bob Holderness ’65

Bob Holderness was mayor of Folsom, Calif., from 1992 through 1994.

John Howe ’72

In November 2003, the Sunnyvale City Council selected John Howe as the fifty-fourth mayor of Sunnyvale.

John Howe served as a member of the Sunnyvale City Council beginning in 2001 after serving five years as a planning commissioner. Owner of a local tax and real estate company, Howe is active in civic organizations and is a graduate and member of the board of directors of Leadership Sunnyvale.

Kathleen M. King ’79

Kathleen King was elected to the Saratoga City Council in November 2002, and is currently serving as mayor of the city. She is a founder and chairman of the Silicon Valley Children’s Hospital Foundation, a not-for-profit organization partnered with Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and focused on the establishment of a children’s hospital in San Jose, the largest city in the United States to not have a children’s hospital. Applied Materials, Inc., King’s previous employer for 25 years, has supplied much of the seed money for this endeavor.

King is a past member of the Board of Directors of Parents Helping Parents and a current board member of the Valley Medical Center Foundation, the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative, Hakone Gardens Foundation, and is vice-chair of the Silicon Valley Women’s Alliance. She is also a fellow in the American Leadership Forum, Silicon Valley.

Kathleen King is a native of California. She attended public schools in San Jose and graduated from West Valley College and Santa Clara University.

Kathleen lives in Saratoga with her husband, Mark Stark; they have five children, Marie, Allyssa, Nick, Matthew and Robert.

Mike King ’63

Mike King logged many years as a banking executive before he arrived in San Carlos, Calif., and ran for the city council. King worked for Bank of America for 25 years, managing its Hong Kong office for part of that time, and now is president of the Bank of Santa Clara. He served on the San Carlos Planning Commission for several years and won election to the council in 1993. The council rotates the position of mayor and King most recently served as mayor in 2004.

Larry Lanctot ’65

Larry Lanctot served on the city council of Larkspur, Calif., for more than a decade. The council rotates the position of mayor. Lanctot’s most recent stint win the mayor’s chair was in 2001.

Robert Lilley ’65

Robert Lilley served on the City Council in Atascadero, Calif. from 1988 to 1992,and was mayor in 1991.

Patricia Mahan J.D. ’80

Patricia M. Mahan was elected mayor of Santa Clara in November 2002 to a term that expires in November 2006. She plans then to seek a seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. An attorney, she received her law degree from Santa Clara and her teaching credential from San Jose State. She served on the West Valley Mission Community College Board and was first elected to the Santa Clara City Council in 1994. Her law school education trained her well in negotiation skills that have been "very critical" in aspects of her mayoral work, she says.

Tom McEnery ’67, M.A. ’70

Tom McEnery was mayor of San Jose from 1983 to 1990, and during that time helped to revitalize the city’s downtown. McEnery had worked in his family’s commercial real estate business, and was critical of city development policies. "If you complain and don’t do anything about it, that’s not a very good model," he says. So McEnery got on the planning commission, then ran for city council and then mayor. He was mayor when SCU was having trouble obtaining a land parcel from San Jose. "(Then-SCU President) Fr. Rewak was president and came into my office and said there’s got to be a way to work that out. And in about half an hour it got worked out. That’s where the new baseball stadium is being built. It used to be the city of San Jose and we transferred it to Santa Clara because Fr. Rewak asked me to."

Richard Morton ’37

Served as mayor of Campbell from 1952 to 1956.

Bill Nicholson ’36

Bill Nicholson, a civil engineer, was elected to the Santa Clara City Council in 1952 after serving on the Planning Commission for several years. He was appointed mayor in 1957. "In those days Santa Clara was a small town and everyone knew everyone," he says. Santa Clara had a staff of just two people, so the council took the major step of hiring its first city manager. Zoning was a key issue for the council as the city began to grow and annex land in the post-war boom. "It was never dull," Nicholson says.

Gavin Newsom ’89

Newsom was elected the 42nd mayor of the city and county of San Francisco in 2003. He immediately became a national lightning rod when he opened the doors of City Hall to homosexual and lesbian couples who wanted to marry. After nearly 4,000 same-sex marriages, California courts stepped in to nullify them, and the matter continues to wind through federal courts. Newsom’s policies extend to other issues, like his "Care Not Cash" program to address the city’s rampant homeless problem, and his move to deputize city workers to cite litterers. Founder of a wine business, Newsom served seven years on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors before becoming mayor.

Patrick O’Laughlin J.D. ’73

Patrick O’Laughlin served on the Los Gatos Town Council from 1992 to 1996, and was mayor in 1995.

Ana Ventura Phares ’83

Ana Ventura Phares, the daughter of migrant farmworkers, is mayor of Watsonville, Calif., the first Latina woman to hold that post. She was elected to the City Council in 1998 and subsequently was selected as mayor by fellow council members. After law school, she became a lawyer to help poor farmworkers who could not otherwise afford legal services. She eventually sought elective office to broaden her impact. "My parents have a very strong work ethic. We feel spiritually that if we’re blessed, we want to help others and give what we can. That is a blessing to be able to do that."

Peg (Pasek) Pinard ’67

Peg Pinard was elected to the San Luis Obispo City Council in 1987, and was elected mayor in 1992. She was elected to the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors in 1996 and was re-elected in 2000. She recently made a run for State Senate. Pinard’s husband, Leo Pinard ’62, their son, Leo Pinard III ’05 and their daughter, Margaret Pinard ’03, are all SCU alumni. While on the city council, Pinard worked with local officials and representatives from Unocal to clean up an oil deposit at Avila Beach, where for more than 100 years, over a half-million gallons of crude oil, gasoline, and diesel fuel leaked from Unocal pipelines beneath the town of Avila Beach. Shortly after being elected County Supervisor in 1996, Pinard began work on negotiating a settlement agreement with Unocal. It required the oil company to temporarily relocate residents, dig up the contaminated soil, and rebuild the town.

Some of the mitigation funds from the cleanup were used to preserve thousands of acres of coastal hills and open space. She also negotiated the inclusion of 33 new affordable homes as part of the deal.

The California attorney general called the negotiation, "perhaps the largest environmental settlement in California history."

As mayor of San Luis Obispo, Pinard started an afterschool program for at-risk youth called Students Taking Active Responsibility (STAR). She also made the city more pedestrian friendly through smart-growth changes to the general plan, and increased the number of affordable housing units in the area.

Pinard has also served two years in the Peace Corps in the Philippines as a math teacher, and has taught migrant farm workers in the high school equivalency program in San Luis Obispo.

Gary Podesto ’63

Gary Podesto, a businessman, was mayor of Stockton, Calif., for two terms, from 1997 to 2004. First he had launched a chain of grocery stores, and as he achieved prominence in business, Podesto had to train himself to overcome panic attacks that had plagued him for years. "I hated standing up in front of people," he says. "But you force yourself. You sweat a lot and you know you have to do what you have to do. Whenever I had to be somewhere and speak, I’d be there way, way early," to survey the environment, watch the audience come in and make sure the room temperature was cool, he says. Most importantly, he always over prepared. "I really, really researched so I would be comfortable in what I was talking about. I didn’t let myself get caught on the spot … I did the same thing as mayor. I knew more about sewers than I ever wanted to. I would be up nights reading about things that I’d probably never use again."

Podesto also met with constituents often. Once he agreed to meet a man in a coffee shop who said he had confidential information. In reality the man wanted to report that he "was being attacked telepathically," Podesto recalls. "He had an aluminum suitcase and he brought it up on the table and he went to open it – it was one of those you picture as being a bomb. And I was ready to go under the table. It was just his attach? case. He was a guy who was supposed to be on meds, and he was off his meds. Every time he got off his meds he was attacked telepathically. So I met with everybody."

Brian J. Rice

Brian Rice,D.D.S., was elected to the San Clemente(CA) City Council in 1986 and served a four year term. He served as Mayor for a year 1989-1990. Brian co-authored a slow growth initative, Measure B, which was adopted by a vote of the citizens in 1984. This initative was instrumental in forming the guidelines necessary for managing the growth of the city for the past twenty years.

Richard Riordan '52

Richard Riordan served two terms as mayor of Los Angeles. He earned his degree from Princeton after transferring from Santa Clara University. Elected mayor in 1993 after making his fortune in real estate and venture capitalism, he was the first Republican to lead the city in 30 years. He ran for governor in the 2002 Republican primary. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him state education secretary in 2003. He resigned the post effective June 2005. "The secret of success in life can be wrapped up in two words: courage and giving," Riordan says. "Both of them can be practiced every day."

Al Ruffo ’31 J.D. ’36

Al Ruffo was a political powerhouse in San Jose for many years, serving on the City Council and as mayor from 1944 to 1952. Separately, he helped form the San Francisco 49ers. Student body president while at Santa Clara University, he also played guard for football coach Buck Shaw and was inducted into the Santa Clara County Sports Hall of Fame. He died in 2003.

Jerome Smith J.D. ’64

Jerome Smith was a city councilman and mayor in Saratoga, Calif., from 1968 to 1974. He then served as a California state senator from 1974 to 1979, and for 17 years as a judge on the state Court of Appeals. In recent years he has developed his skill as a sculptor, and has volunteered as a legal adviser helping former Soviet nations develop their judicial systems.

Anthony Williams ’73

Williams is serving his second term as mayor of Washington, D.C. He was appointed chief financial officer for the city in 1995, and ran for mayor in 1998. Williams had been the Department of Agriculture’s first CFO during the Clinton Administration, and earlier deputy state comptroller of Connecticut. He held appointed posts in St. Louis and Boston. Williams attended Santa Clara for two years, then earned his degree at Yale, followed by a Harvard law degree and master’s degree in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. In the capital, Williams sees hope for a long-sought cause, a voting voice in Congress for the city of Washington. "There’s more of a respect for the city than there was before. Before, everybody thought we were just a joke," he says.


Frank Cownie, parent of SCU alumnus Charlie Cownie '00 and SCU freshman Suzie Cownie, is mayor of Des Moines, IA.

Do you know of an SCU alumnus/a who has served as a mayor and is not listed above? Please let us know. E-mail Editor Adam Breen at and we’ll add that person’s name to the list.

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