Former San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales

STATE SENATE | 10TH DISTRICT | Nearly a decade ago, former San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales, was indicted for a union garbage contract scheme that through secret side deals, ultimately cost taxpayers $11 million.

Gonzales was first accused of the improper deals in a grand jury report and later censured for misconduct by the San Jose City Council. He also repeatedly rejected calls for his resignation. Later, a judge threw out the charges and cast the scandal as politics, at worst.

But, the stain remains on Gonzales’ tumultuous tenure in San Jose. But, apparently, not for some.

State Sen. Bob Wieckowski plans to honor Gonzales and four others Friday for the Third Annual Latino Heritage Leadership Award in San Jose. Wieckowski’s Tenth District represents parts of San Jose all the way to Castro Valley in the East Bay.

In addition to Gonzales, former Newark Councilmember Ana Apodaca will honored along three others in journalism, education and business.

Jeff Barbosa, a spokesperson for Wieckowski, said Gonzales was chosen based on 35 years of public service experience. Gonzales is currently the CEO of the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley, he added, “The foundation is involved in a number of education initiatives with the Latino communities in Silicon Valley, as well as training Latinos to fill leadership roles on non-profit boards, which is an important issue among Latinos in Santa Clara County.”

Gonzales’ time as mayor in San Jose, to many, was hardly any model in leadership. As mayor, then 49, he acknowledged an improper relationship with a 25-year-old staffer in his office. At the time, Gonzales was seen as a rising star and had addressed the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles.