Mayor of San Francisco, California from 1968 to 1976
Joseph Lawrence Alioto was born on Febuary 12th, 1916 in San Francisco. His father, Giuseppe, a Sicilian immigrant, was a succesful fish wholesaler. In 1937, he graduated from St. Mary's College, where he was valedictorian and student body president. 3 years later, he graduated Catholic University of America Law School, in Washington D.C. He later recieved honorary doctorates from St. Mary's College, Santa Clara University and Catholic University of America.
Joseph Alioto became a millionaire in anti-trust law, first working five years at the United States Department of Justice, then founding his own law firm, in San Francisco, in 1945. He was also a founding member, and Chairman of the Board of First San Francisco Bank, and ran the Rice Growers' Association of California for 16 years, starting in 1959.
Appointed to the San Francisco Board of Education by Mayor Elmer E. Robinson
in 1948, Alioto served five years. A few years later he was appointed to the
Redevelopment Agency which he chaired. By this time, he was active in Democratic
Party politics. In 1956, he helped develop the Food for Peace Program of the U.S.
Senate and 3 years later he was appointed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to conduct amajor survey of farm productions and marketing in South America
After a whirlwind, 56-day campaign, Joseph L. Alioto was elected San
Mayor on Nov. 7, 1967 and was inaugurated Jan. 8, 1968. A moderate Democrat who
reflected the tolerance of the city, he was easily re-elected in November, 1971. At one
time considered as Hubert H. Humphrey's vice presidential running mate, Alioto
catapulted into the national spotlight with his nomination of Humphrey as the party's
presidential candidate at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. While serving as
mayor, he explored a gubernatorial run in 1969, and ran unsuccessfully for governor of
California in 1974. Alioto was known as charming and commanding, articulate and
outspoken, flamboyant and rich in personality.
Alioto's administration spearheaded economic development and jobs including a
building boom, an increased police force, and a mini-park program. Although known for
downtown growth, his administration also stopped freeway development, established the 40-foot height ordinance, and adopted the first urban design plan, which was aimed at
protecting views and open spaces. Elected on a promise of reducing crime and taxes,
Alioto took office when racial tensions were high, following the "Summer of Love."
Credited with being a strong advocate of civil rights, he brought minorities into city
politics. Alioto called upon the city's heavyweights of intellect, commerce, and labor to
serve as deputies and advisors. He launched charter reform and mediated numerous
major labor disputes, including the police and fire strike of 1975. While he lowered the
property tax rate three years in a row, his years in office were marked by both inflation
After completing his second term as mayor in 1976, Alioto returned to his law firm, Alioto & Alioto. Joseph Alioto died in San Francisco on January 29, 1998, at the age of 81.