Guillermo (Bill) Vidal

June 14, 2011

Guillermo “Bill” Vidal

Guillermo “Bill” Vidal, a native of Camagüey, Cuba, is Denver’s 44th Mayor and the first foreign born person ever to hold the title of “Mayor” in Denver.  In 1961 his parents sent Vidal and his two brothers to the U.S. via “Operation Peter Pan,” a program which placed over 14,000 children in foster homes or orphanages. Once in the U.S., the Vidal boys were sent to Sacred Heart Orphanage in Pueblo, Colorado, where the family was reunited four years later.

Vidal graduated from the University of Colorado with a civil engineering degree.  He joined the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), where he worked for 23 years and was promoted to the post of executive director as an appointee of Colorado Governor Roy Romer in 1994.

During his tenure with CDOT, Vidal was responsible for many construction projects, however, Mr. Vidal is best know for completing the first statewide multi-modal transportation plan in Colorado’s history, originating the Strategic Transportation Investment Program (the 7th Pot) and initiating the T-REX multi-modal transportation project on I 25.

After his tenure with CDOT, Vidal headed the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG).  Among Vidal’s best known accomplishments at DRCOG are the adoption of the 20 Year Regional Transportation and Clean Water Plans.  Most importantly, Vidal led the region’s local governments to form a historic coalition to guide development known as the Mile High Compact. While at DRCOG Vidal was used as a consultant by the US Coalition Government in Iraq to help organize the newly found Baghdad Citizen Advisory Council, which became a democratic model shaped similarly to DRCOG.

In 2004, Denver Mayor, John Hickenlooper persuaded Vidal to join his Cabinet and become Deputy Mayor and Manager of Public Works for the City and County of Denver.  Vidal introduced the largest street and bridge construction program in the history of the City and developed the City’s first Storm Sewer and Sanitary Sewer Plans, as well as the visionary Strategic Transportation Plan.

Vidal also successfully managed the construction of the Colorado Convention Center’s expansion, the new wing of the Denver Art Museum, the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center and the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse, and many other infrastructure projects. Under Vidal’s direction, Denver Public Works introduced the single stream recycling program, converted the heavy equipment fleet to bio-diesel and reduced the Public Works Department budget through effective reorganization and finding efficiencies.

Following the death of his father, Vidal returned to Cuba in order to trace his remaining family on the island, and to bring closure to a forty-year absence from his homeland. This trip motivated Vidal to write and publish his memoirs, titled Boxing for Cuba, which was published on November 15, 2007.

Vidal’s practical experience of government and politics, and the shattering personal experiences that shaped his life, have given him a unique perspective about the relationship between political events and the daily lives of ordinary people. He brings this humane understanding to his memoir and to his continued work in government.