San Ramon City Manager Joe Gorton announced Friday that he plans to retire from the city government early in the new year to cap a public service career of 35 years that also included time as San Ramon's police chief.
Gorton, a career law enforcement official who made the transition to leading the city administration 5-1/2 years ago, has guided San Ramon through a period of continued residential growth and the completion of several notable capital projects as well as helping spearhead the city's response during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Words do not adequately express my love for this community and the team that has dedicated their lives to provide a quality of life that is unmatched to those who live, work and play in San Ramon," Gorton said in a statement on Friday.
"The beacon that leads us all is our city council's vision for San Ramon; both past and present. I am grateful to have worked for this community, and have been a firsthand witness as our councils have put the priorities of the community first," Gorton added. "Our staff is amazing and is the very reason San Ramon is one of the most attractive communities in the country. With the leadership of our current department directors, I have full confidence in the success of San Ramon going forward."
The San Ramon City Council is scheduled to meet in the coming weeks to discuss the recruitment process to identify Gorton's successor. Hiring a new city manager will be one of the important early decisions for the new council after the upcoming general election, with two councilmember seats and the mayor post on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Gorton said he plans to step down in January, with a specific date yet to be determined.
A native of Gardnerville in western Nevada who earned an associate degree in administration of justice in Butte County, Gorton started his government career in law enforcement with the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office in 1988 as a deputy-sheriff.
He spent a significant portion of his tenure working in San Ramon under the city's prior contract with the county for police services. Gorton was a key member of the founding San Ramon Police Department when the city split from the county in favor of its own police agency in 2007.
After seven years as a police captain, Gorton ascended to become the city's second-ever police chief in November 2013 -- a position he held for more than three years, including six months in double duty also as interim city manager in 2016. The San Ramon City Council appointed Gorton as the permanent city manager in January 2017.
Gorton's tenure as city manager was marked midway through by the COVID-19 pandemic arriving in spring 2020. He was credited with leading the city's response including shifting programs, facilities and services to meet changing needs and health requirements – such as meal delivery for seniors, assistance hotlines, remote public meetings and virtual events.
In the wake of the social justice protests of 2020, San Ramon PD began partnering with San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District in 2021 on a public safety for mental health pilot program, under Gorton's direction.
The initiative "shifts the response for 911 calls related to non-violent mental health emergencies, dispatching paramedics and medically-trained firefighters first, with SRPD staff as backup," city officials said.
Gorton was also a key member of the countywide steering committee that helped establish the A3 Community Crisis Response initiative, which "seeks to transform the region’s behavioral health care and emergency response system by providing timely and appropriate behavioral health crisis services to Anyone in Contra Costa County, Anywhere at Anytime," city officials said.
Another public safety achievement during Gorton's time as city manager included refurbishing the San Ramon police station alongside a new state-of-the-art joint dispatch and emergency operations center with SRVFPD.
Among other capital projects for the city were the reconfiguration of San Ramon City Hall and renovations at the community centers, the senior center and San Ramon Olympic Pool.
"The city also completed a number of deferred maintenance projects as well as other critical infrastructure improvements, including widening Bollinger Canyon Road and Alcosta Boulevard, and fully funding the construction of a pedestrian bridge over Bollinger Canyon Road at the Iron Horse Trail Overcrossing," city officials added.
Advancement of the CityWalk Master Plan and associated housing development proposals in Bishop Ranch, as well as continued rollout of new homes in the Dougherty Valley and public review of other residential projects across the city have occurred under Gorton's watch as well.
The City Council is scheduled to discuss a performance evaluation for Gorton, as well as the process for selecting an interim city manager, during closed session at the end of the regular council meeting this Tuesday (Sept. 27).