Joe Simitian

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

S. Joseph Simitian
Joe Simitian.jpg
Simitian at the TeachAIDS inaugural gala, 2010
Santa Clara County Supervisor from the 5th District
Assumed office
January 7, 2013
PresidentCindy Chavez
President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors
In office
January 2019 – January 2020
Member of the California Senate
from the 11th district
In office
December 6, 2004 – November 30, 2012
Preceded byByron Sher
Succeeded byJerry Hill (redistricted)
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 21st district
In office
December 4, 2000 – December 6, 2004
Preceded byTed Lempert
Succeeded byIra Ruskin
Santa Clara County Supervisor from the 5th District
In office
December 2, 1996 – December 4, 2000
Preceded byDianne McKenna
Succeeded byLiz Kniss
Palo Alto City Councilor
In office
December 7, 1992 – December 2, 1996
Personal details
Born (1953-02-01) February 1, 1953 (age 67)
Palo Alto, California
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Mary Hughes
ResidencePalo Alto, California
Alma materColorado College
Stanford University
UC Berkeley School of Law
City Planner

Saren Joseph Simitian (born February 1, 1953) is a California Democratic politician. From 2004 to 2012, he was the State Senator representing California's 11th State Senate district, which encompasses all or part of 13 cities in San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz counties.[1] Approaching his term limit at the end of 2012, he ran for and was elected as a Santa Clara County Supervisor.[2] He was re-elected to the same seat in 2016 and again in 2020.

Simitian's legislative and supervisorial record includes work on housing affordability, healthcare, government accountability, education, environmental protection, energy/climate, consumer protection, privacy, and highway safety. Simitian has been recognized as "one of the most effective legislators in Sacramento,"[3] and has been commended for improving educational access and housing for low-income families.[4]

In the state legislature, Simitian chaired the California Senate Environmental Quality Committee and the Budget Subcommittee No. 2 on Resources. He is the author of California's 20% renewable energy portfolio standard and California's data breach notification law, which requires companies and agencies to notify individuals when their personal information is compromised.[5] Simitian also authored several high-profile transportation safety laws, including California's hands-free cell phone bill.[6][7]


Joe Simitian is married to Mary Hughes, a Bay Area political consultant. Simitian proposed to Hughes on election night in 1996 upon being elected to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.[8]


Early political career[edit]

Joe Simitian served as President of the Palo Alto School Board from 1983 to 1991.[9] He was on the Palo Alto City Council from 1992 to 1996 and served as Mayor for part of that time.

Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors[edit]

Simitian served until 2018 as President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisor, and after winning reelection in 2020, continues to represent District 5 (Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Palo Alto, Cupertino, Mountain View, Saratoga, and Stanford, as well as portions of Sunnyvale and San Jose). He was first elected to the Board of Supervisors in November 1996, serving from 1997 to 2000.

Simitian was elected again to the District 5 seat of the Board of Supervisors in 2012, after reaching his term limit in the State Senate. He was re-elected in 2016 with 89 percent of the vote.[10]

As Supervisor, Simitian is credited with saving the 400 units of affordable housing at the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park,[11] and he has proposed the building of affordable teacher housing in Palo Alto for teachers across the county.[12][13] He also successfully pushed the County to fund multiple new playgrounds accessible to special needs children, following the creation of Palo Alto's Magical Bridge Playground.[14]

Simitian has advanced multiple privacy-related initiatives at the county level. Under his guidance, Santa Clara County became "one of the first in the country" to hire a privacy specialist in a designated role to oversee its data-driven programs.[15] He also secured passage of a surveillance ordinance, the first of its kind in the United States, requiring that police forces get explicit permission for new surveillance technology.[16]

Simitian pushed for more civilian oversight for Sheriff and county jails[17] and secured approval for body-worn cameras for Sheriff's Deputies and jail guards.[18]

State Assembly[edit]

Simitian was elected to the California State Assembly's 21st District in November 2000, and re-elected to a second term in November 2002.

Legislation sponsored by Simitian and signed into law during this period includes:

  • A.B. 700, Security breach notification law (2001)[19]
  • A.B. 441, School funding equalization (2001)[20]
  • A.B. 1402, Requiring cost-saving design-build process for school districts (2001)[21]
  • A.B. 1000, Design-build pilot for community college districts (2002)[22]
  • A.B. 2140, Criminalizing elder abuse (2002) [23]
  • A.B. 2474, Antifreeze bittering to reduce accidental poisoning (2002)[24]
  • A.B. 1219, Establishing identity theft investigation procedures (2002)[25]
  • A.B. 68, Online Privacy Protection Act (2003)[26]
  • A.B. 1301, Minors drinking and driving (2003)[27]
  • A.B. 1330, Environmental education for underserved youth (2003)[28]
  • A.B. 1546, Pollution prevention and congestion relief (2008) [29]
  • A.B. 1854, Wipers on, lights on (2004)[30]
  • A.B. 2672, Cruise ship sewage dumping ban (2004)[31][32]
  • A.B. 2611, Elder and dependent adult physical and financial abuse (2004)[33]

State Senate[edit]

Simitian was elected to the California State Senate in November 2004 for District 11. He defeated former Assemblyman and San Mateo County Supervisor Ted Lempert in the Democratic primary election, also prevailing in the general election. Simitian was re-elected to a second term in 2008. His second term ended in 2012. Simitian was one of only four Democratic Senators to vote against California's ambitious High Speed Rail plan.

Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry has put Simitian on a list of individuals banned from entering the country. The decision was made after Simitian travelled to Nagorno-Karabakh without Baku's permission.[34]

Simitian's legislation during his Senate term includes:

S.B. 107, 20% Renewable Energy Portfolio (2005)[35]

S.B. 201, Sustainable Oceans Act, Aquaculture (2005)[36][37]

S.B. 679, Funding for San Mateo County group homes (2005)[38]

S.B. 1613, Hands-free cell phone law (2006)[39][40]

S.B. 729, Water quality (2006)[41]

S.B. 1609, Elder abuse prevention in reverse mortgages (2006)[42]

S.B. 28, Prohibition on texting while driving (2007)[43]

S.B. 966, Pharmaceutical waste disposal (2007)[44]

S.B. 1298, Student Information System (2008)[45]

S.B. 640, Sexual misconduct by public employees (2008)[46]

S.B. 28, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta emergency preparedness Act (2008)[47]

S.B. 509, Green chemistry: toxics information clearinghouse (2008)[48][49]

S.B. X71, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Reform Act (2009)[50]

S.B. 1342, Polling places (2010)[51]

S.B. 1381, Kindergarten age/transitional kindergarten (2010)[52]

S.B. 1411, Malicious online impersonation prevention (2010)[53]

S.B. 1311, Small business loans, California Capital Access Program (2008)[54]

S.B. 24, Data breach notification requirements (2011)[55]

S.B. 1303, Red light camera reform (2012)[56]

S.B. 1359, Tax check-offs for cancer research (2012)[57]

S.B. 1538, Dense breast tissue notification (2012)[58][59]

S.B. 36, Healthcare access for at-risk children (2011)[60]

S.B. 2X, 33% Renewable Energy by 2020 (2011)[61]

S.B. 1739, Oil spill response training (2008)[62]

S.B. 1456, CEQA reform (2010)[63]

S.B. 226, CEQA streamlining (2011)[64]

S.B. 1191, Default disclosure to prospective tenants (2012)[65]


Simitian serves on the following committees on the Board of Supervisors:

  • Chair, Finance and Government Operations Committee
  • Vice-chair, Health and Hospital Committee

Simitian served on the following Senate committees:[66]

  • Chair, Environmental Quality Committee
  • Member, Budget Committee
    • Chair, Budget Subcommittee No. 2 on Resources, Environmental Protection, Energy, and Transportation
  • Member, Education Committee
  • Member, Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee
  • Member, Natural Resources and Water Committee
  • Member, Transportation and Housing Committee
  • Chair, Select Committee on Privacy
  • Chair, Select Committee on Delta Conservation, Conveyance, and Governance
  • Member, Select Committee on Delta Stewardship and Sustainability
  • Member, Select Committee on Climate Change and A.B. 32 Implementation


Simitian has received the following awards (partial list):[67]

  • Californians Against Waste, Legislator of the Year
  • Palo Alto Educators Association, Friend of Education Award
  • Sierra Club, In Recognition of a Lifetime of Commitment
  • Palo Alto Stanford Heritage Award, Preservationist of the Year
  • Bay Area Municipal Elections Committee, Friend of BAYMEC Award
  • Junior Statesman Foundation, Distinguished Leader Award
  • Housing Action Coalition, Housing Leadership Award
  • Billy DeFrank Lesbian and Gay Community Center, Friend of the DeFrank Center Award

Community service[edit]

The following are some of Simitian's other activities:[68]


  • Honorary Board Member, AchieveKids
  • Board of Advisors, Acterra
  • Board of Advisors, Adolescent Counseling Services
  • Honorary Board Member, California Pops Orchestra
  • Honorary Committee, Friends of Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo
  • Trustee Emeritus, Junior Statesmen Foundation
  • Honorary Council Member, Leadership Mountain View
  • Board of Advisors, O'Neill Sea Odyssey
  • Board of Advisors, Palo Alto History Museum
  • Advisory Group Member, Government Ethics Advisory Group, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Santa Clara University


  • Advisory Team, San Mateo County Service Learning Project
  • Board of Directors, American Leadership Forum – Silicon Valley
  • Co-Chair, Housing Leadership Council, Silicon Valley Leadership Group
  • Board of Advisors, Clara-Mateo Alliance, Inc.
  • Board of Directors, Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network
  • Steering Committee, Bay Area Council
  • Member, California UN 50 Committee
  • Explorer Scouts Advisor, Law Explorer Post No. 804
  • North County Allocations Committee, United Way of Santa Clara County
  • President, Friends of the Children's Theatre
  • President of the Santa Clara County School Boards' Association
  • President of the League of California Cities Peninsula Division
  • Chairperson of the Santa Clara County Intergovernmental Council (IGC)
  • Representative of the President of the United States, 1994 U.S. Delegation to Observe Elections in El Salvador
  • Elections Supervisor, 1997 and 1998 Bosnian Elections
  • Volunteer, International Rescue Committee (IRC) 1999 refugee relief and resettlement efforts in Albania and Kosovo


  1. ^ Biography
  2. ^ About Joe Archived January 22, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Mercury News Editorial: Joe Simitian for Santa Clara County Supervisor Mercury News, May 24, 2012
  4. ^ 'We will be torn apart': the battle to save Silicon Valley's oldest trailer park The Guardian
  5. ^ AB 700 (PDF) – State of California Archived October 19, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ New California Hands Free Law
  7. ^ Schwarzenegger outlaws text-messaging while driving – Los Angeles Times
  8. ^ Palo Alto Online
  9. ^ Sen. Joe Simitian – Friends of UC Santa Cruz
  10. ^ Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters, June 2016 Presidential Primary Election Results
  11. ^ Mercury News editorial: Saving Buena Vista in Palo Alto still is worth doing
  12. ^ Silicon Valley Seeks Solutions for Affordable Housing ABC 7
  13. ^ Palo Alto Board Considers Building Teacher Housing Near Courthouse
  14. ^ Santa Clara County Puts $10 Million Toward Inclusive Playground Mercury News
  15. ^ Santa Clara County Hires First Chief Privacy Officer Next City
  16. ^ Meet Joe Simitian, Silicon Valley's surveillance technology watchdog The Guardian
  17. ^ Santa Clara County Approves Civilian Oversight for Sheriff's Office Jails Mercury News
  18. ^ Santa Clara County Body Cams Approved for Deputies and Jail Officers Mercury News
  19. ^ A Blow to Identity Thieves Los Angeles Times, July 12, 2003
  20. ^ AB-441 School finance: revenue limits California Legislative Information
  21. ^ AB-1402 Public works: design-build contracts California Legislative Information
  22. ^ AB-1000 Public works: design-build contracts California Legislative Information
  23. ^ AB-2140 Elder abuse California Legislative Information
  24. ^ AB-2474 Automotive products California Legislative Information
  25. ^ AB-1219 Criminal procedure: identity California Legislative Information
  26. ^ AB-68 Online Privacy Protection Act of 2003 California Legislative Information
  27. ^ AB-1301 Alcoholic beverages and controlled substances: minors California Legislative Information
  28. ^ AB-1330 Outdoor Environmental Education Program California Legislative Information
  29. ^ AB-1546 Local governments: vehicle fee for congestion and stormwater management programs California Legislative Information
  30. ^ AB-1854 Motor vehicles: headlamps: inclement weather California Legislative Information
  31. ^ Ban on sewage dumping along California coast to get federal teeth Mercury News, August 23, 2010
  32. ^ California Passes Legislation to Stop Cruise Ship Sewage Dumping Oceana
  33. ^ AB-2611 Elder and dependent adult abuse California Legislative Information
  34. ^ California senator declared persona non grata in Azerbaijan Archived April 14, 2013, at
  35. ^ SB-107 Renewable energy: Public Interest Energy Research, Demonstration, and Development Program California Legislative Information
  36. ^ SB-201 Marine finfish aquaculture: leases California Legislative Information
  37. ^ Uses and Threats State of California Ocean Protections Council
  38. ^ SB-679 Aid to Families with Dependent Children-Foster Care: group homes: definition California Legislative Information
  39. ^ Drives Us Crazy San Francisco Chronicle, Wednesday, May 31, 2006
  40. ^ State Takes Hands-Off Policy on Cellphones Los Angeles Times, September 15, 2006
  41. ^ SB-729 Water quality California Legislative Information
  42. ^ SB-1609 Reverse mortgages: annuities California Legislative Information
  43. ^ SB-28 Motor vehicles: electronic wireless communications device California Legislative Information
  44. ^ SB-966 Pharmaceutical drug waste disposal California Legislative Information
  45. ^ SB-1298 California education information California Legislative Information
  46. ^ Editorial: Sex-abuse victims deserve equal rights to recourse Mercury News, March 23, 2008
  47. ^ SB-27 Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Emergency Preparedness Act of 2008 California Legislative Information
  48. ^ Chemical regulation broadens Los Angeles Times, September 30, 2008
  49. ^ Fight Grows Over Labels on Household Cleaners The New York Times, September 17, 2009
  50. ^ New state agency tries to revive delta SF Gate
  51. ^ Bill guaranteeing polling stations becomes law Palo Alto Online, July 16, 2010
  52. ^ Earlier cutoff date to enter kindergarten a step closer in California Los Angeles Times, September 7, 2010
  53. ^ Local lawmaker makes sure nobody else creates your Facebook page Mercury News, December 29, 2010
  54. ^ SB-1311 California Pollution Control Financing Authority: Capital Access Loan Program California Legislative Information
  55. ^ California blazes trail again with enhanced breach alert law SC Magazine, September 01, 2011
  56. ^ SF Gate, September 12, 2012
  57. ^ SB-1359 Personal income taxes: contributions: California Breast Cancer Research Fund California Legislative Information
  58. ^ Gov. Jerry Brown signs bill requiring extra warnings on mammograms Mercury News, September 22, 2012
  59. ^ Bill to improve chances of breast cancer detection SF Gate
  60. ^ Opinion: Legislature must clear the way to help San Mateo kids Mercury News, January 25, 2011
  61. ^ California powers ahead on green energy SF Gate, April 2, 2011
  62. ^ SB-1739 Oil spill contingency plan California Legislative Information
  63. ^ SB-1456 Environmental quality: cumulative effects and mediation California Legislative Information
  64. ^ Safeguard CEQA’s original intent: Protect the environment and grow the economy Mercury News, September 26, 2011
  65. ^ In California foreclosures, tenants should have rights, too Mercury News, August 2, 2012
  66. ^ Committees
  67. ^ Awards
  68. ^ Background

External links[edit]