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November 8, 2016 — California General Election

City of OaklandCandidate for City Council, District 5

Photo of Viola Gonzales

Viola Gonzales

Nonprofit Executive Director
6,053 votes (43.5%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Community economic development to create jobs in all areas of our city
  • Address the distrust between our residents and its public safety employees
  • Support quality training and education that leads to good paying jobs



Profession:Nonprofit Executive
Chief Executive Officer, AnewAmerica Community Corporation (2011–2016)
Committee Member, Oakland Fund for Children and Youth — Appointed position (2005–2008)
Executive Director, The Latino Community Foundation (2004–2007)
Member, Oakland Unified School District — Appointed position (2002–2003)
Executive Director, Latino Issues Forum (1999–2002)
Commissioner, City of Oakland Planning Commission — Appointed position (2001–2002)
Assistant to the Mayor for Economic Development and Employment Projects, Mayor's Office, City of Oakland (1992–1995)


Harvard University Master of Business Administration (1972)
St. Mary's University Bachelor of Business Administration, Economics (1969)

Community Activities

Board Member, Health Access Foundation (2005–current)
Community Advisory Board Member, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center (2005–2010)
Vice Chair, Glenview Neighborhood Association (2010–2010)
Member, The Unity Council (2008–2009)
Chair, Fruitvale Community Development District Council (1991–1992)


I have considerable executive experience to offer the City of Oakland. Most of my professional career has been in managing people and money. I hold a Harvard MBA, and an undergraduate degree in business economics. My diverse work history has straddled private and public sectors. I’ve worked in the accounting and regulatory divisions of a large corporation; I’ve been self-employed and owned a small retail business. As Assistant to former Mayor Elihu M. Harris, I gave leadership to private-public initiatives for economic recovery, conversion of military bases, access to capital-business development, and school-to-work projects.  In the last fifteen years, I have worked primarily as nonprofit executive, giving leadership to agencies that offer direct services to families, advocate for equity and sustainable development and an an emerging philanthropy, enabling people to help themselves. A 37-year resident of Oakland, I’ve served on the Planning Commission, School Board and Oakland Fund for Children & Youth. I know what it's like to be part of a working family, get an education through scholarship, and feel the sting of discrimination. I have extensive experience in board governance, having served on a multitude of community boards with focus on equity: economic and social justice.

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Mayor Libby Schaaf
  • Former Mayor Elihu M. Harris
  • East Bay Times

Organizations (3)

  • Evolve California
  • OakPAC
  • Oakland Police Officers' Association

Elected Officials (13)

  • Gilda Gonzales, former Oakland Port Commissioner
  • Mark Salinas, Council Member, City of Hayward
  • John Marquez, Contra Costa Community College District Governing Board Member
  • Zack Wasserman, former Port Commissioner
  • Bryan Parker, former Port Commissioner
  • Kenneth S. Katzoff, former Port Commissioner; former Planning Commissioner, City of Oakland
  • Anthony Batarse, Jr., former Port Commissioner
  • Linda Handy, Peralta Community College District Trustee, Area 3*
  • Kerry Hamill, Manager, BART*; former member of Oakland Board of Education
  • Dick Spees, former Oakland City Council Member, District 4
  • Pat Kernighan, former Oakland City Council Member, District 2
  • Sheila Jordan, former Alameda County Superintendent of Schools
  • Arabella Martinez, Commissioner, Port of Oakland*

Individuals (26)

  • Seth Barad, Professor of Business Practice, Mills College*
  • Mary Gay Ducey
  • Trudy Lynn Martin, Civil Rights Attorney, Retired
  • Rick Mariano, Holliday Development*
  • Abigail Leonard, Development Manager, Rising Sun Energy Center*
  • Maurilio Leon, Chief Operating Officer, Community Housing Opportunity Corporation (CHOC)*
  • Robert Lattimore, Senior Vice President, Lending, Main Street Launch*
  • Vishu Lalchandani, Board Member, Alzheimer's Services of the East Bay*
  • Omar Korin, Owner, Savemore Market
  • Samuel Kang, Civil Rights Attorney
  • Alton Jelks, Lecturer, Public Administration, Cal State University East Bay*
  • Sandra R. Hernández, MD, CEO, California Health Care Foundation*
  • Carol Heard, Regional Director, California Casualty Management Company*
  • Susan Hayes-Smith, retired, Community Liaison, City of Oakland*
  • John Gamboa, Co-Founder, Greenlining Institute*
  • Richard Fuentes, Co-Founder, The Port Bar
  • Elizabeth Frumusa, Owner, Bellanico Restaurant & Wine Bar
  • Bob Feinbaum
  • Christian Downer, Realtor, Pacific Union*
  • Darlene Crane, President, The Crane Works
  • Ana Chretien, President, ABC Security Service, Inc
  • David J. Carlson, Director of Sustainable Development, Parsons Corporation*
  • John T. Betterton, Secretary of the Board, Port of Oakland*
  • Renato Almanzor, Senior Director of Programs, LeaderSpring*
  • Orson Aguilar, Executive Director, Greenlining Institute*
  • Eduardo Jimenez, former Peralta Community College District, Measure A Citizens' Bond Review Oversight Committee*

Who gave money to this candidate?

To see who is funding campaigns in Oakland, visit Open Disclosure Oakland.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

1. Community economic development to create jobs in all areas of our city:

  • Support policies that help local businesses grow. Create jobs by encouraging self-employment, micro enterprise development, business revitalization and larger business development
  • Support quality training & education that leads to good paying jobs
  • Support smart growth and creativity in housing options: transit-oriented development; secondary units, infill and new, et al. 

2. Secure quality management of all city services in all areas of the city, for all of our residents.

  • Our public services need to be well managed whether these are public works, libraries, parks, police or fire departments.
  • We deserve to live in a city where our residents do not fear the very same services that are paid by tax dollars to protect them. 
  • Our city workers should know to what standards they are held accountable, take pride in providing those services and be respected for providing them.

 3. Promote collaboration and bridge building to achieve outcomes

  • Make room for differences: help bring civil discourse to public meetings
  • Work collaboratively with mayor, council and community to build a great city
  • Support dialogue between youth of color and police: programs that humanize all sides

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