DANVILLE -- The red, white and blue of an American flag swayed softly in the summer breeze outside. And inside the town's post office, in a private quiet ceremony, Romy de Guzman, 54, took an oath and was officially sworn in as the town's new postmaster early Friday.
Dressed in a fashionable black suit at the office on Camino Tassajara, de Guzman said the oath, often administered to federal employees, requires that he "support and defend the Constitution of the United States." De Guzman, during an interview July 18, said he's looking forward to working with the Town of Danville.
"It's always customer service for me -- that they (residents) are satisfied with our services," said de Guzman, who will oversee 78 employees who deliver to 20,000 addresses in the Danville area. He said the Danville post office is operating well, so he does not foresee implementing any major changes. Danville is the 41st most expensive ZIP code in America, according to a national business magazine.
The oath has historical significance, said de Guzman. Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first postmaster of the U.S. colonies. Later, the postmaster general became a cabinet-level post, appointed by the U.S. president until a reorganization in the 1970s. Guzman said the last U.S. president who appointed a postmaster general was former President Lyndon Johnson. The local postmaster position fosters strong communal ties.
"Back in the old days, the post office was a center of the community," said de Guzman. "We're still encouraged to get involved with a community's local governments and local issues."
De Guzman said he emigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines in his early 20s, began his U.S. Postal Service career in 1981 as an Oakland letter carrier and became a supervisor four years later. In 1993, he became Novato's postmaster, and in 2008, became manager of customer service operations for the Oakland post office. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of San Francisco and a master's in administration from Central Michigan University.
During his time as Novato's postmaster, he received the Postal Service's Benjamin Franklin Award for "excellence in community outreach." While there, he started a program which notified law enforcement agencies of "mail buildup" at seniors' residences, allowing them to make sure the seniors were alright.
In addition to its usual mailing and shipping services, which includes applications for passports and renewals and taking passport photos, the Danville post office has recently begun providing a direct-mail service to help small businesses and an expanded post office box service in which the post office will, on behalf of customers, accept packages from private carriers that do not deliver to a post office box.
De Guzman lives with his wife and two children in Fremont and volunteers with Habitat for Humanity.