Robert Gonzales won the Azusa Mayor Election with a strong majority of the vote
Not long ago, former Mayor of Azusa Joe Rocha decided to step down from office. He served 23 years on the council and 13 years as mayor. His departure left a hole in the city of Azusa, but it was quickly filled with the 2020 Azusa Mayoral Election by Robert Gonzales.
Gonzales was a member of Azusa’s City Council for 12 years and an early favorite to win the mayoral election. To nobody’s surprise, he won the three man election. Voting website LAVote reported Gonzales won with 55.83 percent of the vote. The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported that percentage equated to 2,783 votes.
The runner-ups were nowhere near Gonzales in terms of votes. According to LAVote, second place candidate Jonny M. Liu ended with 24.88 percent of the vote. The third place candidate, Bruce Knoles, ended up with 19.29 percent of the vote.
ZU News interviewed Mayor Gonzales to find out his plans for Azusa. Here’s what he said.
Q: What is your relationship with the city of Azusa?
A: I’m 50 years old and I’ve lived here all of 50 years. I’ve been part of this community since I was able to do so. I come from a Parks and Rec background line of duty. I coached football at Gladstone where I graduated from. Giving people lifelong lessons so they hopefully become lifelong citizens and I take pride in it.
Q: What made you want to run for Mayor?
A: I just knew that it was time for me to consider that. Our mayor has been amazing. It was something I needed to do for me to see how the residents respond in wanting me to step up. I was fully prepared to campaign for the residents of Azusa.
My motto is “I don’t run against people, I run for the residents.”
Q: What was your journey like during the campaign?
A: This is my seventh campaign since 2005. This one was a little different because it was more of a responsibility-driven campaign. This is the person that’s going to be the face of the community for the next two years.
I like campaigning for the simple fact that you get to meet your residents and get to know their needs. This campaign allows you to get hands-on with the residents. You get the complaints from residents but you want to hear the good things too, what they like and what they don’t like.
It’s very emotional. Some days you do great and some days folks will live off certain rumors that aren’t necessarily correct or accurate and folks run with it. Now, especially, with the evolution of social media because you’re in an arena you’re not given the opportunity to speak on your behalf. You’re judged in small rooms of opinion. That’s the hard part.
Q: Were you surprised to win it?
A: You never know with elections. You don’t take anything for granted. To me there’s never any favorites when it comes to campaigns. I knew I was going to campaign, I knew the work I was doing and the work I put in and I knew my program works. At the end of the day, you have to put in the work and if they see you put in the work, they appreciate it. It didn’t matter who I was running against or who was running against me. I knew I only had to worry about myself and I would be fine. You never take these things for granted.
Q: What are you hoping to change in Azusa?
A: One thing to remember is this is a two year seat, not a four year seat. I would like to have our council discuss some of the homelessness issues we have. I would like to be more aggressive to get the resources put into Azusa and how to do so. We’ll have to have candid discussions but not affect quality life for our residents. We need resources. This is not one of those things that goes away.
I also want to address some of the housing issues we have. We’re going to have to have discussions on where we’re going to put them. There’s a lot of moving parts and we’re looking forward to having those discussions.
The last thing for me is my vacancy. Since I won, my seat has become vacant. I’m looking to try to rotate the mayorship, so every council member has the chance to be mayor. A large number of cities already do what we call “the rotation.”
Q: Is there anyone you want to thank?
A: My newlywed wife! I just got married in June and I’d like to thank her first and foremost for putting up with me, dealing with the pressure of the campaign and me not doing all of my daily husband duties. She saw the work firsthand and I want to thank her for being patient with me and keeping me sane.
I’d like to thank my Gladstone High School Gladiators for helping me, including the football team and swim team. There’s other folks that have endorsed me, but really it’s up to the people who kept me going and supported me who I’d like to thank the most.
I’d also like to thank Johnny Liu and Bruce Knoles for running. They motivated me to do the work and they need to be thanked. They shouldn’t be forgotten. I thank them for their desires to serve.
Gonzales will serve as Mayor until the next elections in April 2022.