Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Joseph Huber officially swore in former state Sen. Joe Simitian as Santa Clara County supervisor at a ceremony in Palo Alto, Sunday, March 17.
Simitian, who stated his name as "Joseph 'You can call me Joe' Simitian" during the official event, had planned on conducting the ceremony with U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, but Eshoo was tapped to attend the investiture of newly elected Pope Francis.
"I would like to believe that there was some debate over whether to come to the swearing in of a second-term supervisor two months into his term rather than be on Air Force Two on the way to Vatican City," said Simitian, who previously served on the board from 1997 to 2000.
Huber said he was honored to be Simitian's "second choice to the prom."
Simitian, who assumed office the first week of January, supplemented Sunday's traditional commemorative ceremony with a film called "The Waiting Room," which documents 24 hours in an overcrowded Oakland hospital emergency room. In a press release, he called the ceremony "an opportunity to shine a light on the health care challenges we face both here in the county and across the country."
After serving in the state Senate for eight years, Simitian announced his candidacy for supervisor in November 2011 at Lucie Stern Community Center in Palo Alto. He won the election last June, replacing former supervisor Liz Kniss.
Simitian represents District 5, which includes Cupertino, Saratoga, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, the northwestern half of Sunnyvale, Mountain View and Palo Alto. But Palo Alto is where his political roots are.
Simitian is a longtime resident whose political career can be traced back to Palo Alto High School, when he was elected student-body president in 1969.
At 23 years old, Simitian became the youngest person to challenge an incumbent for a school-board seat. He lost that year but won when he was 30. He served on the Palo Alto School Board of Education from 1983 to 1991, including as president.
His next venture was the Palo Alto City Council, on which he served from 1992 to 1996, including a year as mayor. He spearheaded various low-income housing projects for the elderly, homeless and developmentally disabled.
Simitian was next elected to the state Assembly in 2000 and state Senate in 2004. As a legislator, he was an education advocate, helping to re-appropriate $1.3 million in federal funds to the Ravenswood City School District in East Palo Alto and fighting the state on $220 million in cuts to basic-aid school districts.