ALFRED W. RIOLO AS A POLITICAL NEWCOMER IN '68, HE NEARLY MADE THE RUNOFF IN A BOARD OF SUPERVISORS RACE
In 1968, Alfred W. Riolo, a political unknown, stunned local politicians when he ran for a seat on the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors and almost succeeded.
With 28.5 percent of the vote in a three-way race, he came within 118 votes of making the runoff.
"He just came out of nowhere and challenged the establishment," said Ted Sheedy, who won a seat on the Board of Supervisors two years later. "He had a truly grass-roots campaign with handmade signs. And he put them up himself. His race certainly inspired me to run."
Mr. Riolo, a senior labor relations analyst for the California State Employees Association, collapsed and died in his Sacramento residence Wednesday. He was 55.
His wife, Janice Popoff Riolo, said Friday that he may have died of a massive stroke, but the Sacramento County Coroner's Office had not determined the exact cause.
After his 1968 campaign for the District 3 supervisorial seat then held by James Phelan, Mr. Riolo never sought elective office again. But during the 1970s he served as an appointive member of the board of directors of the Sacramento Community Center Joint Powers Authority.
An energetic man who wrote books and once ran his own business, American River Canoe Trips, Mr. Riolo was a member of what was then called the Sacramento County Young Democrats.
Born in Pittsburgh, he was reared in Sacramento. His interest in politics surfaced in junior high school when he was elected student body president of what is now Sutter Middle School. He graduated from Sacramento High School in 1958.
After two years in the Army, which trained him as a medic, he returned to Sacramento and earned bachelor's and master's degrees in government from what is now California State University, Sacramento.
He was working as an analyst for the California Youth Authority when he ran for county supervisor, challenging the incumbent as an "elitist, insensitive to the citizens of this county and unapproachable to anyone but the wealthy and influential."
In a statement dated May 16, 1968, he described his most interesting experience as the race for supervisor, writing: "I have . . . championed . . . for reforms which the press ignores but which challenge this county's deep foundation of an incipient aristocracy of privileges."
He was the author of two books. His first, in 1983, was titled "How to Convert Your Favorite Sport, Pastime or Idea to Cash." He published it himself. The second, written with Ellen Greenberg, was titled "The New Idea Success Book: Starting a Money-Making Business." It was published in 1989 by Liberty House.
He was a member of the Dante Club.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Riolo is survived by a son, Raymond Riolo; a daughter, Patti Riolo; his mother, Concetta Riolo; a brother, Peter Riolo; and a sister, Dolly Wilson, all of Sacramento.
Celebration of life services will be at 2 p.m. today in Culjis, Miller, Skelton & Herberger Chapel of the Valley, 1525 Alhambra Blvd. Interment will be private.
Sacramento Bee, The (CA)
Date: October 28, 1995
Edition: METRO FINAL