After years of being controlled by political boss Charlie Bigley, San Jose welcomed a group of reforming politicians to the city council in 1944. Ernest Renzel was among them. Renzel was elected president of the city council the following year, and also assumed the then unofficial title of Mayor of San Jose concurrently.
Renzel served in that position until the following year. After his short tenure as mayor and city councilman, Renzel continued to be active in civic affairs as a private citizen and is fondly remembered by San Joseans for being instrumental in bringing the San Jose International Airport to the city.
The Renzel home was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.