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Joe Simitian: Listening to Trump’s America

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The Commonwealth Club

110 The Embarcadero

San Francisco, CA 94105

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Joe Simitian, Santa Clara County Supervisor, Former California State Senator

In Conversation with John Diaz, Editorial Page Editor, San Francisco Chronicle

Supervisor Joe Simitian notes that the Bay Area and much of California is a bubble, where just 32 percent of people voted for Donald Trump. Only 21 percent of people voted for Trump in Santa Clara County, while 12 percent voted for him in Palo Alto, Simitian’s hometown. Simitian says that in the immediate aftermath of the election, some were inclined to dismiss Trump voters as racist, sexist, homophobic, misogynistic or xenophobic. But is it fair to claim that 46 percent of the American electorate fits this profile? Simitian didn’t believe so, but he did wonder what prompted a large portion of the electorate, some of whom had previously voted for President Obama, to vote for President Trump.

To get some answers, Supervisor Simitian traveled to three counties, in three states: Robeson County, North Carolina; Cambria County, Pennsylvania; and Macomb County, Michigan. There, Simitian had more than 100 conversations in places that had historically voted for Democratic candidates for president (including President Obama), but many of these voters “flipped” in 2016, voting for President Trump. Supervisor Simitian spent a week in each place, talking with cops, teachers, librarians, labor leaders, business people, academics, bankers, journalists, retirees, elected officials and party activists from both parties. Come hear what he learned about America beyond the Bay Area.

Simitian was elected to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors in 2012 and was reelected in 2016. His career in public service includes stints as a member of the California State Senate and the California State Assembly, mayor of Palo Alto, president of the Palo Alto School Board. He also served an earlier term on the Board of Supervisors. Simitian has served as an election observer/supervisor in El Salvador and Bosnia, and he has participated in refugee relief and resettlement efforts in Albania and Kosovo.

Location: 110 The Embarcadero, San Francisco
Time: 5:45 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program


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The Commonwealth Club

110 The Embarcadero

San Francisco, CA 94105

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