Two officials to discuss influence of their Palo Alto upbringings

Forum to explore how local roots shaped careers of congresswoman, county supervisor

For many residents, Palo Alto is a city to build a career -- but several public officials have roots in the area that go beyond work. On Sunday, Palo Alto City Councilwoman Karen Holman will host a discussion with Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian to examine how growing up in Palo Alto shaped their public service careers.

Lofgren, who has championed digital rights and immigration reform in Congress since 1995, attended Palo Alto public schools from kindergarten through high school. Simitian graduated from Palo Alto High School and served as the city's mayor before he was elected to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors for the first time in 1997.

Holman -- who conceptualized and planned the event -- said that she has wanted to explore the topic of public officials' local roots for several years.

In an email to the Weekly, Holman wrote that the discussion is of "both general and specific interest" to residents in Palo Alto and the U.S. at large.

"Perhaps this is especially true now given we as a community and also as a country face challenges on how we address issues and what the foundational basis should be for decision makers as well as ourselves," Holman said.

Both Lofgren and Simitian have cultivated robust public service careers. After completing her undergraduate career at Stanford University, Lofgren worked as a staffer to former Congressman Don Edwards, her predecessor, in Washington, D.C. and San Jose. During her tenure with Edwards's office, she obtained her law degree from Santa Clara University. She went on to practice and teach immigration law before serving on the county Board of Supervisors for 13 years.

Simitian is a former president of the Palo Alto Unified school board and has served on the state Assembly and Senate. He termed out of state office in 2012 and was re-elected to the Board of Supervisors. He holds a bachelor's degree from Colorado College and multiple graduate degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Stanford.

The event will take place at Lucie Stern Community Center, 1305 Middlefield Road, on Sunday, Dec. 3, from 2-4 p.m. Learn more about the event here.


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