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Joe’s Biography

Joe Simitian was elected to the California State Senate in November 2004 to represent the 11th State Senate District, which includes portions of San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties.  His public service over the years includes stints as a State Assemblymember, member of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, Mayor of Palo Alto and President of the Palo Alto School Board. He has also served as an election observer/supervisor in El Salvador and Bosnia, and participated in refugee relief and resettlement efforts in Albania and Kosovo. 

In the Senate, Simitian chairs the Environmental Quality Committee and serves as a member of the following committees: Budget & Fiscal Review, where he is Chair of Subcommittee #2 on Resources, Environmental Protection and Transportation; Education; Energy, Utilities & Communications; Natural Resources & Water; and Transportation & Housing. 

Simitian received his Bachelor of Arts degree, with academic honors, from The Colorado College. He also holds a Master of Arts degree in International Policy Studies from Stanford University, a Master in City Planning degree from the University of California at Berkeley, and a Juris Doctor law degree from the University of California at Berkeley (Boalt Hall).

Raised in Palo Alto and a graduate of Palo Alto (“Paly”) High, Simitian’s roots are in the Midpeninsula. His community involvement includes service on the boards of local organizations such as American Leadership Forum – Silicon Valley, Adolescent Counseling Services and the Clara-Mateo Alliance, and he co-chairs the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s Housing Leadership Council.

Since serving in the Legislature, Simitian has been widely recognized for his commitment to service and the passion he brings to his job. He has received Legislator of the Year awards from a wide range of organizations, including the California School Boards Association, AeA (the American Electronics Association), the California Library Association and NOW (the National Organization for Women).  He regularly receives “100%” environmental ratings from the California League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club and Vote the Coast.

The California Journal identified Simitian as among those at the “Top of the Class” during his first term in the Legislature.  More recently, the Capitol Weekly identified Simitian as one of the half-dozen “Most Effective” members of the Legislature. 

San Jose Magazine has repeatedly recognized him as one of the “Power 100 of Silicon Valley”, and in 2003 Simitian was selected by Scientific American magazine as one of the “Scientific American 50” Leaders in Technology from around the world.

Simitian and his work have been quoted or noted in publications as diverse as the Atlantic Monthly, Conde Nast Traveller, Mother Jones, People Magazine, and Scientific American.  His media appearances range from CNN to the “Dr. Phil Show”, from CTV (Canadian Television) to ABC Radio National in Australia.

Simitian brings to his work a unique perspective and background – service at all levels of local government; hands-on experience in the private sector as a public schools attorney, businessman, and certified city planner; a breadth of international interests and experience; as well as professional education and training particularly applicable to his work in the Legislature.