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Matt Gonzalez

Matt Gonzalez

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Matthew Edward Gonzalez (born June 4, 1965) is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 politician
Politician
A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

, lawyer
Lawyer
A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person who is practicing law." Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain the stability of political...

, and activist prominent in San Francisco politics
Politician
A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

. He currently serves as chief attorney in the San Francisco Public Defender's office.

Gonzalez was a member and president of San Francisco County's Board of Supervisors
San Francisco Board of Supervisors
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is the legislative body within the government of the City and County of San Francisco, California, United States.-Government and politics:...

. He was also one of the first Green Party candidates elected to public office in the San Francisco Bay area
San Francisco Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area, commonly known as the Bay Area, is a populated region that surrounds the San Francisco and San Pablo estuaries in Northern California. The region encompasses metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, along with smaller urban and rural areas...

. In 2003, Gonzalez ran for mayor of San Francisco but lost in a close race to Democrat Gavin Newsom
Gavin Newsom
Gavin Christopher Newsom is an American politician who is the 49th and current Lieutenant Governor of California. Previously, he was the 42nd Mayor of San Francisco, and was elected in 2003 to succeed Willie Brown, becoming San Francisco's youngest mayor in 100 years. Newsom was re-elected in 2007...

. In the 2008 presidential election
United States presidential election, 2008
The United States presidential election of 2008 was the 56th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on November 4, 2008. Democrat Barack Obama, then the junior United States Senator from Illinois, defeated Republican John McCain, the senior U.S. Senator from Arizona. Obama received 365...

, Gonzalez ran for vice president as the running mate of candidate Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader is an American political activist, as well as an author, lecturer, and attorney. Areas of particular concern to Nader include consumer protection, humanitarianism, environmentalism, and democratic government....

.

Early life


Matthew Edward Gonzalez was born in McAllen, Texas
McAllen, Texas
McAllen is the largest city in Hidalgo County, Texas, United States. It is located at the southern tip of Texas in an area known as the Rio Grande Valley and is part of the . Its southern boundary is located about five miles from the U.S.–Mexico border and the Mexican city of Reynosa, the Rio...

, to a Mexican
Mexican people
Mexican people refers to all persons from Mexico, a multiethnic country in North America, and/or who identify with the Mexican cultural and/or national identity....

 mother, Oralia, and Mexican-American father, Mateo. Gonzalez spent his first four years in San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan , officially Municipio de la Ciudad Capital San Juan Bautista , is the capital and most populous municipality in Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States. As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 395,326 making it the 46th-largest city under the jurisdiction of...

. The Gonzalez family moved to New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is a major United States port and the largest city and metropolitan area in the state of Louisiana. The New Orleans metropolitan area has a population of 1,235,650 as of 2009, the 46th largest in the USA. The New Orleans – Metairie – Bogalusa combined statistical area has a population...

; Baltimore, Maryland; and Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kentucky, and the county seat of Jefferson County. Since 2003, the city's borders have been coterminous with those of the county because of a city-county merger. The city's population at the 2010 census was 741,096...

, before the family returned to McAllen when Gonzalez was 11 years old.

In an interview with the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
thumb|right|upright|The Chronicle Building following the [[1906 San Francisco earthquake|1906 earthquake]] and fireThe San Francisco Chronicle is a newspaper serving primarily the San Francisco Bay Area of the U.S. state of California, but distributed throughout Northern and Central California,...

, Gonzalez described his father as a salesman who initially started out selling "cigarettes from the back of his car in south Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

" in the late 1950s or early 1960s, and later started an import/export business selling medical and dental supplies. A profile in the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Gonzalez's father was a division chief for the
international tobacco company Brown & Williamson
Brown & Williamson
Brown & Williamson was an American tobacco company and subsidiary of the giant British American Tobacco, that produced several popular cigarette brands. It became infamous as the focus of investigations for chemically enhancing the addictiveness of cigarettes...

.

"Eddie", as Gonzalez was called in his youth, was an Eagle Scout
Eagle Scout (Boy Scouts of America)
Eagle Scout is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouting program of the Boy Scouts of America . A Scout who attains this rank is called an Eagle Scout or Eagle. Since its introduction in 1911, the Eagle Scout rank has been earned by more than 2 million young men...

 and the president of his senior class. He discovered a talent for debating at Memorial High School, from which he graduated in 1983. Gonzalez said about his childhood in South Texas: "The Mexican-American–Latino
Latino
The demonyms Latino and Latina , are defined in English language dictionaries as:* "a person of Latin-American descent."* "A Latin American."* "A person of Hispanic, especially Latin-American, descent, often one living in the United States."...

Chicano
Chicano
The terms "Chicano" and "Chicana" are used in reference to U.S. citizens of Mexican descent. However, those terms have a wide range of meanings in various parts of the world. The term began to be widely used during the Chicano Movement, mainly among Mexican Americans, especially in the movement's...

 culture in California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 is different than my experience in Texas. I grew up in a town that is majority Mexican and Mexican-American. In McAllen, we didn't refer to ourselves as Latinos or Chicanos. We referred to ourselves as Mexican. There's a different feel in that border area
United States–Mexico border
The United States–Mexico border is the international border between the United States and Mexico. It runs from Imperial Beach, California, and Tijuana, Baja California, in the west to Matamoros, Tamaulipas, and Brownsville, Texas, in the east, and traverses a variety of terrains, ranging from major...

."

Gonzalez earned a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

 in 1987, and a Juris Doctor
Juris Doctor
Juris Doctor is a professional doctorate and first professional graduate degree in law.The degree was first awarded by Harvard University in the United States in the late 19th century and was created as a modern version of the old European doctor of law degree Juris Doctor (see etymology and...

 from Stanford Law School
Stanford Law School
Stanford Law School is a graduate school at Stanford University located in the area known as the Silicon Valley, near Palo Alto, California in the United States. The Law School was established in 1893 when former President Benjamin Harrison joined the faculty as the first professor of law...

 in 1990. At Columbia, he studied comparative literature
Comparative literature
Comparative literature is an academic field dealing with the literature of two or more different linguistic, cultural or national groups...

, political theory
Political philosophy
Political philosophy is the study of such topics as liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of a legal code by authority: what they are, why they are needed, what, if anything, makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect and why, what form it...

, and was a member of the debate team. While attending Stanford, he was an editor for the Stanford Law Review
Stanford Law Review
The Stanford Law Review is a legal journal produced independently by Stanford Law School students. The journal was established in 1948 with future U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher as its first president...

and member of the Stanford Environmental Law Journal. He worked on immigration issues at the East Palo Alto
East Palo Alto, California
East Palo Alto is a city in San Mateo County, California, United States.-Overview:As of the 2010 census, the population of East Palo Alto was 28,155. It is situated on the San Francisco Peninsula, roughly halfway between the cities of San Francisco and San Jose...

 Community Law Project, pending death penalty
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

 cases at the California Appellate Project, and "gender discrimination
Sexism
Sexism, also known as gender discrimination or sex discrimination, is the application of the belief or attitude that there are characteristics implicit to one's gender that indirectly affect one's abilities in unrelated areas...

 and religious clause issues
No religious test clause
The No Religious Test Clause of the United States Constitution is found in Article VI, paragraph 3, and states that:This has been interpreted to mean that no federal employee, whether elected or appointed, career or political, can be required to adhere to or accept any religion or belief...

" as a research assistant to the Dean of the School, constitutional law scholar Paul Brest.

In 1991, he began working as a trial lawyer at the Office of the Public Defender
Public defender
The term public defender is primarily used to refer to a criminal defense lawyer appointed to represent people charged with a crime but who cannot afford to hire an attorney in the United States and Brazil. The term is also applied to some ombudsman offices, for example in Jamaica, and is one way...

 in San Francisco. He was a Certified Specialist in Criminal Law (the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization). He represented and won eight out of nine life in prison cases (the ninth was later won at appeal
Appeal
An appeal is a petition for review of a case that has been decided by a court of law. The petition is made to a higher court for the purpose of overturning the lower court's decision....

) and was named "Lawyer of the Year" by the San Francisco La Raza
La Raza
In the Spanish language the term Raza translates to "race". Its meaning varies amongst various Spanish-speaking peoples. For instance, in Spain, "Raza" may denote specifically Spanish and often of a something or someone of a European Christian heritage. The Francoist film Raza, from 1944, which...

 Lawyers Association in 2000.

Politics and public service


Gonzalez entered politics when he ran for San Francisco District Attorney in 1999. He campaigned in a field of five candidates, including incumbent Terence Hallinan
Terence Hallinan
Terence Hallinan is an American attorney and politician from San Francisco, California. He is the second of six sons born to leftist attorney Vincent Hallinan and his wife Vivian....

. His campaign focused on cleaning up alleged political corruption, prosecuting environmental crimes, and fighting illegal evictions.
Hallinan won the race but the campaign raised Gonzalez's profile. He finished third with 11 percent of the vote, or 20,153 votes.

Party Affiliation


In November 2000, Gonzalez switched from the Democratic Party to the Green Party
Green Party (United States)
The Green Party of the United States is a nationally recognized political party which officially formed in 1991. It is a voluntary association of state green parties. Prior to national formation, many state affiliates had already formed and were recognized by other state parties...

 in what he called "a political or moral epiphany
Epiphany (feeling)
An epiphany is the sudden realization or comprehension of the essence or meaning of something...

." While protesting the absence of Green Party senatorial candidate Medea Benjamin
Medea Benjamin
Medea Benjamin is an American political activist, best known for co-founding Code Pink and, along with her husband, activist and author Kevin Danaher, fair trade advocacy group Global Exchange...

 at a debate between Senator Dianne Feinstein
Dianne Feinstein
Dianne Goldman Berman Feinstein is the senior U.S. Senator from California. A member of the Democratic Party, she has served in the Senate since 1992. She also served as 38th Mayor of San Francisco from 1978 to 1988....

, a Democrat, and her Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 challenger Tom Campbell, Gonzalez decided to switch parties. He wrote, "I couldn't help thinking of how most of my support in last year's district attorney's race came as a result of being allowed into televised debates with my better-known opponents and how that support has eventually led to my being the frontrunner in the District Five supervisorial race. The more I thought about it, the more I knew I wasn't okay with it. I didn't want to be a member of a party that was urging the exclusion of a candidate solely on the grounds that the candidate didn't have enough support, when it's precisely television coverage that could win that candidate public acceptance."

In 2008, Gonzalez left the Green Party, changing his registration to decline to state, when he was the running mate of Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader is an American political activist, as well as an author, lecturer, and attorney. Areas of particular concern to Nader include consumer protection, humanitarianism, environmentalism, and democratic government....

 in an independent presidential campaign. "I expressly said to Nader that I would not run with him if he sought the Green Party nomination," Gonzalez said. "The question after the campaign was: is there a reason to go back to the Green Party?" Among the reasons he cited for the party's slide were infighting, inadequate party-building work, and the party's failure to effectively counter criticisms of Nader's 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns. "We were losing the public relations campaign of explaining what the hell happened," he said.

Election


In 2000, a system of electing supervisors by district rather than citywide took effect. At the urging of Supervisor Tom Ammiano
Tom Ammiano
Tom Ammiano is an American politician and LGBT rights activist from San Francisco, California. Ammiano is a Democrat who has served as a member of the California State Assembly since 2008, representing the 13th district...

, Gonzalez ran for supervisor in newly-made District 5 (besides Hayes Valley, District 5 comprises the Haight-Ashbury, the Western Addition, Alamo Square
Alamo Square
Alamo Square is a residential neighborhood and park in San Francisco, California, in the Western Addition, a district of the city's fifth Supervisorial district, and are served by several Muni bus lines including the 5, 21, 22, and 24...

, and the easternmost part of the Sunset District).

In the runoff election, Gonzalez's opponent, Juanita Owens, tried to capitalize on many Democrats' ill feelings toward the Green Party in the wake of Ralph Nader's involvement in the acrimonious 2000 presidential election
United States presidential election, 2000
The United States presidential election of 2000 was a contest between Republican candidate George W. Bush, then-governor of Texas and son of former president George H. W. Bush , and Democratic candidate Al Gore, then-Vice President....

, but Gonzalez won the run-off election. Like all municipal elections in San Francisco, elections for supervisor are nonpartisan
Nonpartisan
In political science, nonpartisan denotes an election, event, organization or person in which there is no formally declared association with a political party affiliation....

, but some Greens saw the election of their candidate as a significant achievement because, for the first time, a Green Party member had been elected to an important position in San Francisco.

He was elected on a slate of candidates who wanted to change the direction of city policy, in opposition to the "Brown machine
Political machine
A political machine is a political organization in which an authoritative boss or small group commands the support of a corps of supporters and businesses , who receive rewards for their efforts...

", a Democratic Party political machine that had dominated local politics for over 30 years behind Mayor Willie Brown, the Pelosi
Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Patricia D'Alesandro Pelosi is the Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives and served as the 60th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 2007 to 2011...

 family, and other Democrats. His supporters saw his election as a turning point in local politics. According to San Francisco State University
San Francisco State University
San Francisco State University is a public university located in San Francisco, California. As part of the 23-campus California State University system, the university offers over 100 areas of study from nine academic colleges...

 political science professor Richard DeLeon,
"The beginning of the end probably was in 2000, when San Francisco returned to district elections.... The results brought in Gonzalez and other new supervisors not beholden to Brown. It opened the door for a new wave of young neighborhood politicians who didn't need the type of citywide support political leaders like Brown and [John and Phil] Burton had provided over the years."

On the board


When the Board put forth a resolution
Resolution (law)
A resolution is a written motion adopted by a deliberative body. The substance of the resolution can be anything that can normally be proposed as a motion. For long or important motions, though, it is often better to have them written out so that discussion is easier or so that it can be...

 commending San Franciscan Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Patricia D'Alesandro Pelosi is the Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives and served as the 60th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 2007 to 2011...

 for being elected House Minority Whip and being the first woman to hold that position, Gonzalez was the only board member who voted against it. Gonzalez said that supervisors should not issue commendations for winning partisan political positions and that he had written a personal note to Pelosi congratulating her, as she had done him for being elected board president. Gonzalez refused to meet with Brown during his first two years on the Board of Supervisors, saying he did so to avoid being subject to Brown's influence rather than as a matter of disrespect. Two sources reported that Gonzalez defied Brown by walking out of the mayor's State of the City address in 2002. However, Gonzalez later stated in an interview that he was not in attendance.

As board president


In January 2003, Gonzalez was elected president of the Board of Supervisors. The decision involved seven rounds of voting, most of which had Gonzalez vieing for a majority vote with supervisors Aaron Peskin
Aaron Peskin
Aaron Peskin is a former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He was first elected to the Board in 2000, and was re-elected in 2004. In January 2005, his colleagues elected him President of the Board.-Personal life:...

 and Sophie Maxwell
Sophie Maxwell
Sophie Maxwell was a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, representing District 10.-Biography:Maxwell has lived in the Bayview district for the last twenty years....

. When Peskin dropped out Gonzalez emerged the winner, counting among his supporters conservative Board member Tony Hall
Tony Hall (supervisor)
Anthony Hall is a candidate for Mayor of San Francisco and former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He resigned in 2004 to accept appointment as executive director of the Treasure Island Development Authority...

, who said when asked why he voted for Gonzalez, "Gonzalez is a man of integrity and intelligence who will carry out his responsibilities fairly and impartially."

Gonzalez hosted monthly art exhibits in his City Hall office. At the last reception, graffiti
Graffiti
Graffiti is the name for images or lettering scratched, scrawled, painted or marked in any manner on property....

 artist Barry McGee
Barry McGee
Barry McGee is a painter and graffiti artist. He is also known by monikers such as Ray Fong, Lydia Fong, Bernon Vernon, P.Kin, Ray Virgil, Twist and further variations of Twist, such as Twister, Twisty, Twisto and others.-Life and career:McGee graduated from El Camino High School in South...

 spray-painted "Smash the State" on the walls of the office as part of his exhibit." Gonzalez told the press that he knew his office would be repainted for the next occupant.

Campaign for Mayor


In August 2003, Gonzalez ran for Mayor of San Francisco, in a bid to replace outgoing two-term mayor Willie Brown. On a ballot with nine candidates' names, Gonzalez finished second in the initial mayoral election on November 4 behind Gavin Newsom
Gavin Newsom
Gavin Christopher Newsom is an American politician who is the 49th and current Lieutenant Governor of California. Previously, he was the 42nd Mayor of San Francisco, and was elected in 2003 to succeed Willie Brown, becoming San Francisco's youngest mayor in 100 years. Newsom was re-elected in 2007...

, a Democrat and fellow member of the Board of Supervisors who had been endorsed by Brown. Gonzalez received 19.6 percent of the total vote to Newsom's 41.9 percent. Because none of the candidates received a majority a run-off election
Exhaustive ballot
The exhaustive ballot is a voting system used to elect a single winner. Under the exhaustive ballot the elector simply casts a single vote for his or her favorite candidate. However if no candidate is supported by an overall majority of votes then the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated...

 was held on December 9, gaining national and international media coverage.

Gonzalez faced a difficult run-off election; only three percent of voters in San Francisco were registered to his Green Party, and the Democratic Party, dominant in San Francisco, was opposing his candidacy. If elected, Gonzalez would have been the first Green Party mayor of any large American city. Although Gonzalez was endorsed by several key local Democrats, including five among the Board of Supervisors, national Democratic figures, concerned about Ralph Nader's role in the 2000 presidential election
United States presidential election, 2000
The United States presidential election of 2000 was a contest between Republican candidate George W. Bush, then-governor of Texas and son of former president George H. W. Bush , and Democratic candidate Al Gore, then-Vice President....

, became involved on Newsom's behalf. Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

, Al Gore
Al Gore
Albert Arnold "Al" Gore, Jr. served as the 45th Vice President of the United States , under President Bill Clinton. He was the Democratic Party's nominee for President in the 2000 U.S. presidential election....

, Jesse Jackson
Jesse Jackson
Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr. is an African-American civil rights activist and Baptist minister. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 and served as shadow senator for the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1997. He was the founder of both entities that merged to...

, Dianne Feinstein
Dianne Feinstein
Dianne Goldman Berman Feinstein is the senior U.S. Senator from California. A member of the Democratic Party, she has served in the Senate since 1992. She also served as 38th Mayor of San Francisco from 1978 to 1988....

, and Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Patricia D'Alesandro Pelosi is the Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives and served as the 60th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 2007 to 2011...

 all campaigned for Newsom. In the left-leaning political newsletter CounterPunch
Counterpunch
Counterpunch can refer to:* Counterpunch , a punch in boxing* CounterPunch, a bi-weekly political newsletter* Counterpunch , a type of punch used in traditional typography* Punch-Counterpunch, a Transformers character...

, Bruce Anderson wrote, "If Matt Gonzalez, a member of the Green Party, is elected mayor of San Francisco, it will be a dagger straight into the rotted heart of the Democratic Party... He wants to represent the many against the fortunate few the present mayor has faithfully represented for years now."

The candidate, however, saw the election in similar terms. "They're scared, not of a Green being elected mayor", he said, "but of an honest person being elected mayor." Many volunteers worked on Gonzalez's campaign in the run-off. "He's the indie-rock
Indie (music)
In music, independent music, often shortened to indie music or "indie" is a term used to describe independence from major commercial record labels or their subsidiaries, and an autonomous, Do-It-Yourself approach to recording and publishing....

 Kennedy
Kennedy family
In the United States, the phrase Kennedy family commonly refers to the family descending from the marriage of the Irish-Americans Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald that was prominent in American politics and government. Their political involvement has revolved around the...

", one supporter said of Gonzalez. Said Rich DeLeon, professor of political science at San Francisco State University
San Francisco State University
San Francisco State University is a public university located in San Francisco, California. As part of the 23-campus California State University system, the university offers over 100 areas of study from nine academic colleges...

, "The Gonzalez campaign was truly a mobilizing campaign. It really attracted young people who had not been involved — who were perhaps cynical and apathetic — into the active electorate."

Progressive
Progressivism in the United States
Progressivism in the United States is a broadly based reform movement that reached its height early in the 20th century and is generally considered to be middle class and reformist in nature. It arose as a response to the vast changes brought by modernization, such as the growth of large...

s championed Gonzalez as an alternative to a more centrist
Centrism
In politics, centrism is the ideal or the practice of promoting policies that lie different from the standard political left and political right. Most commonly, this is visualized as part of the one-dimensional political spectrum of left-right politics, with centrism landing in the middle between...

 Democratic mainstream: In an interview in January 2005 on his last day in office as a Supervisor, Gonzalez said of his campaign, "After getting in the runoff, literally the day after, as I heard Mayor Brown and others start attacking me for being a communist and racist, well, I started thinking I was going to lose in the very landslide I had foreseen for other candidates. Naturally, I worked hard to represent progressive ideas and win the race. By the end, we started thinking, hey, maybe it’s possible."

Newsom outspent Gonzalez $4.4–4.9 million to $800,000–900,000. Gonzalez sought to tighten spending caps and expand public financing, and accused Newsom of campaign improprieties and spending limit violations. Newsom won the election by 133,546 to 119,329 votes.

Return to private life



Following the mayoral contest, Gonzalez announced he would not seek re-election to the Board of Supervisors. Explaining his decision to retire from politics, he said:
Gonzalez left office when his term ended in January 2005 and was succeeded by Ross Mirkarimi
Ross Mirkarimi
Ross Mirkarimi is a member of the Board of Supervisors of San Francisco, California, a marijuana legalization advocate, and co-founder of the Green Party of California. He was elected in 2004 to represent District 5...

, a Green Party
Green Party (United States)
The Green Party of the United States is a nationally recognized political party which officially formed in 1991. It is a voluntary association of state green parties. Prior to national formation, many state affiliates had already formed and were recognized by other state parties...

 member and community activist who had also worked on Gonzalez's campaign. Gonzalez then opened law offices with fellow Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

 alum Whitney Leigh. In May 2005 Gonzalez sought unsuccessfully to overturn the contract
Wong, et al. vs. San Francisco Board of Education, et al.
Wong, et al. vs. San Francisco Board of Education was a lawsuit in the U.S. state of California that asked the San Francisco Board of Education to void San Francisco public schools superintendent Arlene Ackerman's new contract....

 of San Francisco school Superintendent Arlene Ackerman
Arlene Ackerman (educator)
Arlene C. Ackerman, Ed. D. is an educator who was the former superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District and the former superintendent of Philadelphia Public Schools..-Washington, D.C.:Ackerman was superintendent of the D.C...

. His firm brought suit against a San Francisco hotel for not paying its workers the minimum wage; two wrongful death suits against Sacramento police for using taser
Taser
A Taser is an electroshock weapon that uses electrical current to disrupt voluntary control of muscles. Its manufacturer, Taser International, calls the effects "neuromuscular incapacitation" and the devices' mechanism "Electro-Muscular Disruption technology"...

s; against the city of San Jose and Ringling Brothers Circus
Ringling Brothers Circus
The Ringling Brothers Circus was a circus founded in the United States in 1884 by five of the seven Ringling Brothers: Albert , August , Otto , Alfred T. , Charles , John , and Henry...

 for interfering with free speech rights of protestors; and against Clear Channel in a naming rights dispute over the locally owned San Francisco Warfield Theatre. It has also been involved in examining the New Year's Eve
New Year's Eve
New Year's Eve is observed annually on December 31, the final day of any given year in the Gregorian calendar. In modern societies, New Year's Eve is often celebrated at social gatherings, during which participants dance, eat, consume alcoholic beverages, and watch or light fireworks to mark the...

 attack on the Yale a cappella
A cappella
A cappella music is specifically solo or group singing without instrumental sound, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. It is the opposite of cantata, which is accompanied singing. A cappella was originally intended to differentiate between Renaissance polyphony and Baroque concertato...

 group The Baker's Dozen in Pacific Heights.

Gonzalez worked as a guest host for several months in 2005 on Pacifica Radio
Pacifica Radio
Pacifica Radio is the oldest public radio network in the United States. It is a group of five independently operated, non-commercial, listener-supported radio stations that is known for its progressive/liberal political orientation. It is also a program service supplying over 100 affiliated...

 station KPFA
KPFA
KPFA is a listener-funded progressive talk radio and music radio station located in Berkeley, California, broadcasting to the San Francisco Bay Area. KPFA airs public news, public affairs, talk, and music programming. The station signed on-the-air April 15 1949, as the first Pacifica Station...

, substituting for Larry Bensky
Larry Bensky
Larry Bensky is a literary and political journalist with more than forty years experience in both print and broadcast media, as well as a teacher and long-time political activist...

 as the anchor of the weekly public affairs program Sunday Salon.

Gonzalez is also an artist; in the spring of 2007, an exhibit of his collage
Collage
A collage is a work of formal art, primarily in the visual arts, made from an assemblage of different forms, thus creating a new whole....

s was displayed at the Lincart gallery in San Francisco. Gonzalez also makes a brief uncredited appearance in the 2004 documentary Let's Rock Again!
Let's Rock Again!
Let's Rock Again! is a music documentary film following Joe Strummer as he tours across America and Japan with his band the Mescaleros promoting their second album Global a Go-Go...

, interviewing Joe Strummer
Joe Strummer
John Graham Mellor , best remembered by his stage name Joe Strummer, was the co-founder, lyricist, rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist of the British punk rock band The Clash. His musical experience included his membership in The 101ers, Latino Rockabilly War, The Mescaleros and The Pogues, in...

 after his performance at Amoeba Records. In 2009, Gonzalez founded the progressive political blog, As It Ought To Be.

2008 presidential race



In January 2008, Gonzalez, along with several other prominent Green Party members, launched Ralph Nader's 2008 Presidential Exploratory Committee to support a possible Nader candidacy.

On February 28, 2008, Nader named Gonzalez as his running mate for the 2008 presidential election
United States presidential election, 2008
The United States presidential election of 2008 was the 56th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on November 4, 2008. Democrat Barack Obama, then the junior United States Senator from Illinois, defeated Republican John McCain, the senior U.S. Senator from Arizona. Obama received 365...

, only four days after announcing his bid for president. Nader announced that he and Gonzalez would not seek the Green Party nomination but would run as independents.

On March 4, 2008, Gonzalez announced that he had left the Green Party, by changing his voter registration to independent. The change was to accommodate states including Delaware
Delaware
Delaware is a U.S. state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, and to the north by Pennsylvania...

, Idaho
Idaho
Idaho is a state in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state....

 and Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

, which do not allow members of political parties to run as independents.

On October 18, 2008 Gonzalez and Nader also held a large protest on Wall Street
Wall Street
Wall Street refers to the financial district of New York City, named after and centered on the eight-block-long street running from Broadway to South Street on the East River in Lower Manhattan. Over time, the term has become a metonym for the financial markets of the United States as a whole, or...

 following the passage of the government bailout bill. Their opposition to the bailout was a key issue of the Nader/Gonzalez campaign during October 2008, in contrast to both major party candidates who supported the bill

Gonzalez participated in the third party
Third party (United States)
The term third party is used in the United States for any and all political parties in the United States other than one of the two major parties . The term can also refer to independent politicians not affiliated with any party at all and to write-in candidates.The United States has had a...

 vice-presidential debates, along with Constitution Party
Constitution Party (United States)
The Constitution Party is a paleoconservative political party in the United States. It was founded as the U.S. Taxpayers' Party by Howard Philips in 1991. Phillips was the party's candidate in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 presidential elections...

 vice-presidential candidate Darrell Castle
Darrell Castle
Darrell Castle is an American political figure, activist and attorney from Memphis, Tennessee, and was the vice presidential candidate of the Constitution Party in the 2008 United States presidential election.-Early life and education:...

 and Libertarian
Libertarian Party (United States)
The Libertarian Party is the third largest and fastest growing political party in the United States. The political platform of the Libertarian Party reflects its brand of libertarianism, favoring minimally regulated, laissez-faire markets, strong civil liberties, minimally regulated migration...

 Wayne Allyn Root
Wayne Allyn Root
Wayne Allyn Root is an American politician, entrepreneur, television and radio personality, author and political commentator. He was the 2008 Libertarian Party vice-presidential nominee. In June 2009 Richard Winger wrote he was the front runner for the 2012 Libertarian Presidential nomination...

, held in Las Vegas, on November 2, 2008. The event was hosted by Free and Equal.org and Free & Equal Elections (FREE), an organization of political parties, independent citizens and civic organizations formed to promote free and equal elections in the United States.

In San Francisco, Gonzalez received fewer votes citywide when he ran for vice president in 2008 (3,682) than he received in District 5 (12,743) when he ran for supervisor in 2000. Will Harper, editor of the SF Weekly
SF Weekly
SF Weekly is a free alternative weekly newspaper in San Francisco, California. The newspaper, distributed throughout the San Francisco Bay Area every Wednesday, is published by Village Voice Media, a 16-paper alt weekly newspaper chain that also includes the New York City Village Voice and the Los...

, wrote:
"Eight years ago, 24,819 San Franciscans voted for Nader, according to Department of Election records. Of course, we've all had eight years to realize that throwing away our vote on a third-party candidate can do a lot of damage, so Nader's poor showing this time was not entirely unexpected. But Nader supposedly had one thing going for him in San Francisco that other candidates did not: A running mate from the city, former supervisor and Green Party pinup boy
Pin-up girl
A pin-up girl, also known as a pin-up model, is a model whose mass-produced pictures see wide appeal as popular culture. Pin-ups are intended for informal display, e.g. meant to be "pinned-up" on a wall...

 Matt Gonzalez. Obviously, having a hometown guy in the race didn't make a difference for S.F. voters sick of Republican rule of the White House".

Public Defender


In February 2011, Gonzalez returned to San Francisco Government
Government of San Francisco
As the only consolidated city-county in California, the government of the City and County of San Francisco is defined by the , which is similar to the other counties of California and defines several officers and entities....

, appointed chief attorney in the Public Defender's Office by Jeff Adachi
Jeff Adachi
Jeff Adachi is the elected Public Defender of San Francisco, pension reform advocate, and a former candidate for Mayor of San Francisco.-Early life and education:...

. Some speculated that his appointment was a harbinger of another run for elected office, but Adachi dismissed those claims.

An unorthodox politician


Newspaper accounts from the San Francisco mayoral election noted that Gonzalez slept on the uncushioned slats of a futon frame because "it's more comfortable", wore Doc Martens shoes and baggy suits (some of which were given him by former San Francisco mayor Art Agnos), and did not wear a watch, even though he owned a Rolex
Rolex
Rolex SA is a Swiss watchmaking manufacturer of high-quality, luxury wristwatches. Rolex watches are popularly regarded as status symbols and BusinessWeek magazine ranks Rolex No.71 on its 2007 annual list of the 100 most valuable global brands...

 given him by his father. The "floppy-haired, slump-shouldered champion of the counterculture
Counterculture
Counterculture is a sociological term used to describe the values and norms of behavior of a cultural group, or subculture, that run counter to those of the social mainstream of the day, the cultural equivalent of political opposition. Counterculture can also be described as a group whose behavior...

", as the Christian Science Monitor called him, is not married and owns no real property. He gave away his 1967 Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz is a German manufacturer of automobiles, buses, coaches, and trucks. Mercedes-Benz is a division of its parent company, Daimler AG...

 sedan because, he said, he found it easier to get around on public transportation.

Gonzalez irked his progressive allies and public-sector employees in San Francisco by standing alongside Ron Paul, a Republican libertarian congressman, and Tony Hall, a conservative former city councilman in San Francisco, in supporting a ballot proposition in San Francisco that would have required city workers to pay more into their own pension fund.

He is fond of chess and poetry. In 1997, at his own expense, he published a collection of poetry by Beat poet
Beat generation
The Beat Generation refers to a group of American post-WWII writers who came to prominence in the 1950s, as well as the cultural phenomena that they both documented and inspired...

 Jack Micheline
Jack Micheline
Jack Micheline , born Harold Martin Silver, was an American painter and poet from the San Francisco Bay Area. His name is synonymous with street artists, underground writers, and "outlaw" poets...

 called Sixty-Seven Poems for Downtrodden Saints. He served on the Board of Directors
Board of directors
A board of directors is a body of elected or appointed members who jointly oversee the activities of a company or organization. Other names include board of governors, board of managers, board of regents, board of trustees, and board of visitors...

 for Intersection for the Arts, a non-profit organization, and in 2004 taught a course called "Art & Politics" at the San Francisco Art Institute
San Francisco Art Institute
San Francisco Art Institute is a school of higher education in contemporary art with the main campus in the Russian Hill district of San Francisco, California. Its graduate center is in the Dogpatch neighborhood. The private, non-profit institution is accredited by WASC and is a member of the...

. Gonzalez played bass guitar
Bass guitar
The bass guitar is a stringed instrument played primarily with the fingers or thumb , or by using a pick....

 in a rock band
Rock Band
Rock Band is a music video game developed by Harmonix Music Systems, published by MTV Games and Electronic Arts. It is the first title in the Rock Band series. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions were released in the United States on November 20, 2007, while the PlayStation 2 version was...

 (called John Heartfield
John Heartfield
John Heartfield is the anglicized name of the German photomontage artist Helmut Herzfeld...

) and still plays occasionally with his brother Chuck and his law partner Whitney Leigh.

In addition to supporting artists and collecting, Gonzalez creates art himself in the form of collage
Collage
A collage is a work of formal art, primarily in the visual arts, made from an assemblage of different forms, thus creating a new whole....

s. In April 2011, he and fellow artist Tom Schultz presented their work in a month-long exhibition.

Books

  • Carlsson, Chris, ed. (2005) The Political Edge, City Lights Foundation Books: San Francisco, CA. ISBN 1-931404-05-4.
  • Walter, Nicole (2004) Go Matt Go! Hats Off Books: Tucson, AZ. ISBN 1-58736-346-1.

External links



Articles written by Gonzalez