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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, August 29, 2001

Gary Fazzino: Coming of age in city government Gary Fazzino: Coming of age in city government (August 29, 2001)

Longtime Palo Alto City Councilman about to be 'termed out'

Interview by Don Kazak and Jay Thorwaldson

Monday nights in the Palo Alto City Council Chambers next year will be different, because Gary Fazzino won't be there.

Forced to step down because of the city's term limits law, Fazzino said his new job as vice president of government and public affairs at Hewlett-Packard Co., where he has worked since 1977, would have meant he would leave the council anyway.

A graduate of Palo Alto High School, where he was senior class president, Fazzino was first elected to the City Council in 1977 at age 24. He served for six years before stepping down because of a job transfer to Washington state, then returned to the City Council in 1990.

Before running for the council, Fazzino worked in the Palo Alto city manager's office. But his knowledge of city government goes back even further. While a student at Stanford in the early 1970s, Fazzino for three years was the voice at the microphone for the KZSU radio broadcasts of City Council meetings.

Fazzino is also the unofficial historian of Palo Alto politics. Ask him who was elected in the 1931 election, and he might be able to tell you -- without looking it up.

Fazzino served twice as the city's mayor, in 1992 and 1999. The first time was during the crisis of drug-related street violence in East Palo Alto (42 people were killed in that city in 1992). He helped bring about the assistance that Palo Alto and Menlo Park provided to East Palo Alto that year, setting up a multi-city anti-drug strike team that made more than 1,000 arrests before it was disbanded in 1994. That effort helped start other cooperative efforts between the three cities.

Fazzino reflected on nearly two decades of public service during a recent interview by Weekly Editor Jay Thorwaldson and Senior Staff Writer Don Kazak. Highlights of that interview follows.


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