Chuck Reed was born on August 15, 1948 and raised in the small farming town of Garden City, Kansas. His family lived in a public housing project, teaching him the importance of government aid for working families. A strong work ethic was evident early in his childhood, as he took jobs sweeping floors while still in elementary school. He dug ditches, shoveled gravel, and worked in the fields before becoming a teenager. While in high school, he worked part time operating a bulldozer and driving an 18-wheeler semi truck.
Reed left Kansas to attend the United States Air Force Academy and went on to serve in Thailand during the Vietnam War. He also received a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs from Princeton University and graduated from Stanford Law School. After passing the bar, he began working as an attorney in San José handling environmental, employment, land use and real estate law, as well as commercial litigation.
His success as an attorney gave him the opportunity to devote time to serving the community. He began offering free legal advice to tenants in housing disputes and helped a number of local non-profit organizations. He has also served on more than 20 boards, commissions, committees, and task forces.
After two decades of civic participation, Reed ran for and won a seat on the City Council in 2000. As the representative for District 4 (which includes Berryessa, North San José and Alviso), he openly opposed issues that he believed were not in the best interest of San José’s long term future. He became an independent voice on the City Council and gained a reputation for his commitment to fiscal responsibility.
On November 7, 2006, Reed was elected the 64th Mayor of San José. He was sworn into office the following January by his daughter, Air Force Lt. Colonel Kim Campbell. As Mayor, he has been committed to improving the quality of life in the city, boosting the public’s trust in local government, and fixing the City’s structural budget deficit. He has successfully implemented his Reed Reforms, a comprehensive set of policies that requires greater disclosure from elected officials, toughens restrictions on lobbyists and increases the role of citizens in San José government. In 2007, he launched his Green Vision: an ambitious 10-point plan to invigorate the economy and improve the environment over the next 15 years. The Green Vision was unanimously adopted by the City Council and more than 4,000 clean tech jobs have since been created in San José.
Reed was re-elected in June 2010 with a landslide 77 percent of the vote – a strong message of support for his commitment to honesty, fiscal responsibility, and open government. His top priorities during his second term are to bring new jobs to San José and implement much-needed fiscal reforms. In 2011, he introduced a comprehensive retirement reform plan to save the city from a fiscal disaster and protect the city’s retirement funds from insolvency. Along with a number of additional fiscal reforms, these changes are designed to eliminate the city’s structural budget deficit and restore core services to baseline levels before he leaves office.
He and his wife, Paula, have been married for more than 40 years. Paula manages a medical clinic specializing in the care of cancer patients. They have two children, Kim and Alex, who both attended public schools in San José. Kim is a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force who has flown more than 100 combat missions. Alex works in Washington D.C. to help prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction.