From the get-go, Joe Simitian sprang to a commanding lead and barely budged all night, in his successful bid to return to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.
With 84 percent of the 5th District votes counted, Simitian held 58 percent of the votes, a crushing 35 points ahead of his nearest competitor, Kris Wang.
It was the same percentage margin as in the early returns. Simitian had 24,335 votes compared to Wang's 9,557 and Barry Chang's 8,199. The 5th District includes Saratoga, Cupertino, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Los Altos and the Los Altos Hills, Palo Alto, and Stanford.
It showed Simitian's wide name recognition through long years of city, county and statewide service that put him ahead of his two Cupertino competitors. Cupertino City Council member Barry Chang, and former Cupertino mayor Wang were the candidates left in what had been a five-candidate field.
"It was very gratifying on two counts," Simitian said. The 35-point margin means an outright win, so he doesn't have to ask for campaign donations for a fall campaign. The second is he can focus on finishing his state Senate work for constituents without the distraction of a campaign.
Like a host of veteran politicians—from former Secretary of State Bruce McPherson to former Assemblymember Wilma Chang—Simitian rose to state office, and then, because of term limits, has elected to seek a job he has done before.
The former Palo Alto Union School District board member and former Palo Alto mayor ascended the ladder of political office over the past two decades. He held the supervisors’ seat from 1997 to 2000, and from there served on the state Assembly. Since 2004, he has represented the 11th District in the state Senate.
Simitian has said he hopes to put his state legislature experience to work to help the county, which has less and less revenue to spend on residents’ needs.
Simitian said he was ready to roll up his sleeves in returning to the day-to-day results-oriented nature of county level work for the 1.8 million residents of Santa Clara County. It's different from the policy and legislative work of a state lawmaker for 38 million residents, but still satisfying, he said.
Given the challenges that await in the county, there will be plenty to do, he said, ticking off a few. "Funding will be a challenge in the coming years, there's the new health care requirements, depending on the Supreme Court, and the criminal justice realignment," he said. "I'm looking to forward to it"