About Joe

Joe's Biography

Simitian Headshot

Joe Simitian was elected to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors in 2012, and re-elected in 2016 and 2020. He represents the Fifth District, which now includes Cupertino, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Saratoga, Stanford, portions of San Jose and unincorporated communities in the Santa Cruz Mountains. 

Joe's public service over the years includes stints as a member of the California State Senate, the California State Assembly, Mayor of Palo Alto, President of the Palo Alto School Board, as well as an earlier term on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. He served as an election observer/supervisor in El Salvador and Bosnia, and participated in refugee relief and resettlement efforts in Albania and Kosovo.

On the Board of Supervisors, Joe serves as Chair of the Health and Hospital Committee, Chair of the Board's Federal Affairs Advocacy Task Force, and Vice Chair of the Housing, Land Use, Environment and Transportation Committee.

Joe 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.

Raised in Palo Alto and a graduate of Palo Alto (“Paly”) High, Joe’s roots are in the South Bay and Midpeninsula. His community involvement includes service with local organizations such as Adolescent Counseling Services, Acterra, Leadership Mountain View, and the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.

During his years in the State Legislature, Joe received recognition for his commitment to service and the passion he brought to his work. 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 received “100%” environmental ratings from the California League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, and Vote the Coast.

The California Journal identified Joe among those at the “Top of the Class” during his first term in the Legislature. Later in his tenure, the Capitol Weekly named Joe one of the half-dozen “Most Effective” members of the Legislature.

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

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

Joe brings a wide range of perspectives and backgrounds to his work. He has served at all levels of state and local government. Joe also has hands-on experience in the private sector as a public schools attorney, businessman, and certified city planner. Along with a breadth of international interests and experience, Joe's professional education and training particularly apply to his work in public service. 



  • Juris Doctor, University of California, Berkeley 
  • Master of City Planning, University of California, Berkeley
  • Master of Arts, International Policy Studies, Stanford University
  • Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, The Colorado College
  • High School Diploma, Palo Alto High School



Supervisor Joe Simitian is an attorney, businessman and city planner. He is a member of the California State Bar and has been granted an AICP certification from the American Institute of Certified Planners.



Government Service

July 6 2012 Joe lectern

County Supervisor Joe Simitian was elected to the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors in 2012, to represent District Five, which includes: Cupertino, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Saratoga, Stanford, and portions of Sunnyvale and San Jose. His public service over the years also includes:

  • California State Senator, 11th District
  • California State Assemblymember, 21st District
  • Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors
  • Mayor, City of Palo Alto
  • President, Palo Alto School Board
  • Regional leadership as President of the Santa Clara County School Boards’ Association, President of the League of California Cities Peninsula Division and 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, Seconded by the U.S. Department of State, serving with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
  • Volunteer, International Rescue Committee (IRC), 1999 refugee relief and resettlement efforts in Albania and Kosovo


Community Service


  • Joe reading to kids
    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 #804
  • North County Allocations Committee, United Way of Santa Clara County
  • President, Friends of the Children’s Theatre​​

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