Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian will discuss the observations he made and perspectives he gained from traveling across the country speaking and listening to citizens of "Trump's America" at an event this Saturday hosted by the American Association of University Women of Palo Alto and the League of Women Voters of Palo Alto.
Earlier this year, Simitian (a registered Democrat) traveled to Robeson County, North Carolina; Cambria County, Pennsylvania and Macomb County, Michigan -- places that had previously voted Democrat, but voted Republican in the past election -- where he hoped to gain a better understanding of the concerns of his fellow American citizens.
Forty-six percent of the American electorate voted for President Donald Trump in the fall, which was "dramatically different" from local results including Palo Alto, where 12 percent of voters supported for the GOP candidate, Simitian wrote in a post on the league's website.
Puzzled by this, and not wanting "to dismiss Trump voters as racist, sexist, homophobic, misogynistic or xenophobic," he sought to break free from the "bubble" of the Bay Area, Simitian said.
"My goal was to listen, learn and understand. And I learned a lot," he said.
After spending a week in each place visiting parades, talent shows, candidate forums, biker bars, local museums and a traveling circus and having more than 100 conversations with cops, teachers, librarians, party activists and others from both parties, he is bringing his observations and experiences back home.
Many people were "perplexed" when he introduced himself, but were "hungry to be heard," Simitian said in a phone interview.
"I really didn't know what I would find when I went off to have this series of conversations," he said. He found them to be "not just fascinating, but (also) quite revealing," he added.
Simitian hopes to be able to share the viewpoints of voters across the political divide in order to promote understanding and healing.
The presentation will be held on Saturday, Sept. 16, at 1 p.m., at the Palo Alto City Council Chambers, City Hall, 250 Hamilton Ave. It is free and open to the public.