News

Retiring Gorton reflects on career in San Ramon

Outgoing city manager and councilmembers reminisce on his tenure and growth of city

San Ramon's retiring city manager was recognized for his 35-year-long career with the city that began with his time as an inaugural member of the San Ramon Police Department at its inception in 2006, and ends with him passing on the reins of city administration to his interim successor.

Joe Gorton will be retiring as San Ramon city manager on Jan. 15. (Photo courtesy City of San Ramon)

Joe Gorton's retirement kicked off on Sunday, making the City Council's most recent meeting on Jan. 10 his last one in the city manager's position, which he was appointed to five years ago following a career as a police officer that culminated in serving as the city's second-ever police chief starting in 2013.

"If you were to look at a resume of a very, very accomplished person but as a police chief and say 'oh that would make a great city manager' I don't think a lot of people would view that as a career path that that is a prime hunting ground, if you will, for city managers," Councilmember Scott Perkins said. "And I can imagine that when you were a young patrol officer out doing the things you do on your beat, you don't say 'you know, if I do this right, I could be city manager someday.'"

But while the position hadn't been part of Gorton's overall career plans, he said he had been open to expanding his horizons on a trial basis when he was first appointed as interim city manager, a title he held alongside the title of SRPD chief for six months before being selected for the position permanently.

"As Councilmember Perkins alluded to -- you're exactly right you don't think 'hey if I play my cards right as a police officer, I'll make city manager' -- that just doesn't ever enter your mind, that's not even there. And the council at the time when they first interviewed me for the job asked me that very question," Gorton said.

Help sustain the local news you depend on.

Your contribution matters. Become a member today.

Join

Gorton began his career in law enforcement with the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office in 1988, where he found himself on patrol during its early years following incorporation in 1983. He said that at the time, not only was a career as city manager nowhere on his mind, but the establishment of an independent police department in the city -- which would materialize in 2006 -- was something he and his colleagues could only fantasize about.

"If this place ever went to its own police department I would jump on board with that in a heartbeat," Gorton said. "And here it comes 2006 and what happens is that some members on this council were the decision makers to make that happen, and it's been a great move for the city and many of us who spent time at the county jumped at the chance to work for the city of San Ramon, and for a lot of reasons that you describe."

In their comments that evening, councilmembers applauded Gorton on his work leading the city during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the local and national outpouring of protests against police violence that emerged the same year following the murder of George Floyd by then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

"And then there was the George Floyd murder aftermath, and how you managed that in the city, working with the chief of police to recognize that despite what a disruptive and horrible event that was that San Ramon can still support its citizens and provide police services, and provide for the police and public safety, and we managed that in a way that allowed the citizens to speak their minds, yet we maintained the dignity and the support for our police department," Perkins said.

Councilmember Sridhar Verose echoed Perkins' sentiments, emphasizing Gorton's work behind San Ramon's high rankings for public safety and raising families compared with other California cities.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox in our Express newsletter.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox in our Express newsletter.

"San Ramon is well known for our safety, so we are ranked as top safety, as well as in raising a family, we are ranked top in California, so definitely that is a testimony to your engagement in community services and your commitment to make sure to have the best high quality of life for residents," Verose said.

Verose also emphasized Gorton's work during the onset of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which struck shortly into Gorton's third year on the job in 2020.

"When we were faced with a pandemic, you stepped up and you helped each and every resident, every request that came in during the challenging times, and you helped our community work together and make sure that they were taken care (of)," Verose said.

Gorton said that for his part, his performance in the city manager's position and fond memories he's carrying into retirement have been in no small part due to having strong relationships and a shared overall vision with the city's council and staff.

"All the way back since I've been in the city is the leadership and vision, which I mean of the council is really critical, because when you go to these city manager conferences it's a real cryfest sometimes, and when you listen to some of the stuff they have to go through with council members, there's some real crazy stuff out there and nothing gets done," Gorton said.

With Gorton's tenure officially over this weekend, deputy city manager Steven Spedowfski is taking the lead of the city's affairs on an interim basis starting this Sunday.

Spedowfski's contract, approved by the council at their most recent meeting on Jan. 10, stipulates that he cannot seek the position on a permanent basis unless recruitment efforts aimed at reaching the widest possible pool of candidates are unsuccessful. Councilmembers will continue considering and implementing recruitment for a permanent city manager in the months ahead, with Spedowfski's time in the interim position set to expire upon finding a replacement.

A front row seat to local high school sports.

Check out our new newsletter, the Playbook.

Jeanita Lyman
Jeanita Lyman joined the Pleasanton Weekly in September 2020 and covers the Danville and San Ramon beat. She studied journalism at Skyline College and Mills College while covering the Peninsula for the San Mateo Daily Journal, after moving back to the area in 2013. Read more >>

Follow DanvilleSanRamon.com on Twitter @DanvilleSanRamo, Facebook and on Instagram @ for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Stay informed on important crime news. Sign up for our FREE daily Express newsletter.

Retiring Gorton reflects on career in San Ramon

Outgoing city manager and councilmembers reminisce on his tenure and growth of city

by / Danville San Ramon

Uploaded: Sun, Jan 15, 2023, 2:38 pm

San Ramon's retiring city manager was recognized for his 35-year-long career with the city that began with his time as an inaugural member of the San Ramon Police Department at its inception in 2006, and ends with him passing on the reins of city administration to his interim successor.

Joe Gorton's retirement kicked off on Sunday, making the City Council's most recent meeting on Jan. 10 his last one in the city manager's position, which he was appointed to five years ago following a career as a police officer that culminated in serving as the city's second-ever police chief starting in 2013.

"If you were to look at a resume of a very, very accomplished person but as a police chief and say 'oh that would make a great city manager' I don't think a lot of people would view that as a career path that that is a prime hunting ground, if you will, for city managers," Councilmember Scott Perkins said. "And I can imagine that when you were a young patrol officer out doing the things you do on your beat, you don't say 'you know, if I do this right, I could be city manager someday.'"

But while the position hadn't been part of Gorton's overall career plans, he said he had been open to expanding his horizons on a trial basis when he was first appointed as interim city manager, a title he held alongside the title of SRPD chief for six months before being selected for the position permanently.

"As Councilmember Perkins alluded to -- you're exactly right you don't think 'hey if I play my cards right as a police officer, I'll make city manager' -- that just doesn't ever enter your mind, that's not even there. And the council at the time when they first interviewed me for the job asked me that very question," Gorton said.

Gorton began his career in law enforcement with the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office in 1988, where he found himself on patrol during its early years following incorporation in 1983. He said that at the time, not only was a career as city manager nowhere on his mind, but the establishment of an independent police department in the city -- which would materialize in 2006 -- was something he and his colleagues could only fantasize about.

"If this place ever went to its own police department I would jump on board with that in a heartbeat," Gorton said. "And here it comes 2006 and what happens is that some members on this council were the decision makers to make that happen, and it's been a great move for the city and many of us who spent time at the county jumped at the chance to work for the city of San Ramon, and for a lot of reasons that you describe."

In their comments that evening, councilmembers applauded Gorton on his work leading the city during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the local and national outpouring of protests against police violence that emerged the same year following the murder of George Floyd by then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

"And then there was the George Floyd murder aftermath, and how you managed that in the city, working with the chief of police to recognize that despite what a disruptive and horrible event that was that San Ramon can still support its citizens and provide police services, and provide for the police and public safety, and we managed that in a way that allowed the citizens to speak their minds, yet we maintained the dignity and the support for our police department," Perkins said.

Councilmember Sridhar Verose echoed Perkins' sentiments, emphasizing Gorton's work behind San Ramon's high rankings for public safety and raising families compared with other California cities.

"San Ramon is well known for our safety, so we are ranked as top safety, as well as in raising a family, we are ranked top in California, so definitely that is a testimony to your engagement in community services and your commitment to make sure to have the best high quality of life for residents," Verose said.

Verose also emphasized Gorton's work during the onset of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which struck shortly into Gorton's third year on the job in 2020.

"When we were faced with a pandemic, you stepped up and you helped each and every resident, every request that came in during the challenging times, and you helped our community work together and make sure that they were taken care (of)," Verose said.

Gorton said that for his part, his performance in the city manager's position and fond memories he's carrying into retirement have been in no small part due to having strong relationships and a shared overall vision with the city's council and staff.

"All the way back since I've been in the city is the leadership and vision, which I mean of the council is really critical, because when you go to these city manager conferences it's a real cryfest sometimes, and when you listen to some of the stuff they have to go through with council members, there's some real crazy stuff out there and nothing gets done," Gorton said.

With Gorton's tenure officially over this weekend, deputy city manager Steven Spedowfski is taking the lead of the city's affairs on an interim basis starting this Sunday.

Spedowfski's contract, approved by the council at their most recent meeting on Jan. 10, stipulates that he cannot seek the position on a permanent basis unless recruitment efforts aimed at reaching the widest possible pool of candidates are unsuccessful. Councilmembers will continue considering and implementing recruitment for a permanent city manager in the months ahead, with Spedowfski's time in the interim position set to expire upon finding a replacement.

Comments

There are no comments yet. Please share yours below.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.