Mayor Joseph L. Alioto, Esq
Born to Sicilian immigrants, Joseph L. Alioto graduated from St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California in 1937 and from The Catholic University of America in 1940. Alioto worked for the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department and then for the Board of Economic Warfare in Washington D.C. He returned to San Francisco after World War II and started his own legal practice specializing in Antitrust law.
Clients included Walt Disney, the Oakland Raiders and Samuel Goldwyn, among others. Along with his successful legal practice, Alioto also served on the San Francisco Board of Education from 1948 to 1954, and in the 1960s, served as the chair of San Francisco’s Redevelopment Agency. With his success as a community leader, Alioto entered the San Francisco mayoral race in 1967 and won. Alioto was inaugurated on January 8, 1968, served a term, and was handily re-elected in 1971.
Joseph L. Alioto is a pillar in San Francisco history as he presided over a time of change in San Francisco. He ran on a platform of reducing taxes and fighting crime, but is also recognized for his efforts in the development of three major building projects, the Bay Area Rapid Transit System (BART), the Transamerica Pyramid and the Embarcadero Center. These efforts engendered opposition in the development stage but were eventually built and transformed the quality of life and skyline of San Francisco. Alioto also helped to bring more minorities into city politics, launched a reform of the city charter, and mediated protracted police and fire department strikes in 1975. Alioto’s political influence also stretched beyond San Francisco when he delivered the speech nominating Hubert Humphrey at the Democratic National Convention in 1968.
Members of Alioto’s family are still deeply involved in San Francisco politics. Angela Alioto, his daughter, served eight years as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, two as its President. One of his granddaughters, Michela Alioto-Pier, was appointed to the Board of Supervisors in 2003 by San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom and won reelection to the Board in 2004. His grandson, Joseph Alioto Veronese is a prominent attorney in San Francisco and was elected as the Municipal Utility District Director, and has been a San Francisco Police Commissioner since 2004. Several of his sons are prominent attorneys and businessmen in the San Francisco Bay Area.