Portuguese-Americans in California Public Office and Public Policy
Sue Zwahlen was elected Mayor of Modesto in February 2021. She is a former two-term member of the Modesto City Schools Board, who was first elected in 2009, re-elected in 2013, and served two terms as president of the Board. As a mother of six children who attended local public schools, Mayor Sue Zwahlen spent many years volunteering in the classroom. During her tenure on the school board, the district’s graduation rates increased from 75% to 87.6%, and suspension rates dropped by 8.4% to an all new low of 4.46%. She is also a 40-year registered nurse, who spent most of her career in the Emergency Room of Doctor’s Medical Center. She graduated from Samuel Merritt Hospital School of Nursing in Oakland in 1975 and has held several demanding nursing certifications, including ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support), and PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support).
A lifelong Modesto resident and a fourth generation Californian from Portuguese and Swiss-German immigrant dairy farmers, who settled in the Modesto area in the early 1900’s. She and her husband, Lynn – a well-known Modesto dentist and long-time football coach at Davis and Downey High Schools – have six grown children and 10 grandchildren. They have lived for 39 years in the same College area neighborhood where the new Portuguese-American Mayor grew up.