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LWV League of Women Voters of California
California State Government November 5, 2002 Election
Smart Voter Full Biography for John Garamendi

Candidate for
Insurance Commissioner; State of California

This information is provided by the candidate


PUBLIC SERVICE: John Garamendi has been an important force in California and the nation. His work speaks for itself.


Following President Clinton's appointment, Garamendi was confirmed by the US Senate and sworn into office on August 15, 1995, as Deputy Secretary of the Interior. As second in command, he and Secretary Babbitt formulated and coordinated the policy and strategy for the Interior's eight bureaus. Garamendi quickly became the Department's trouble shooter.

HEADWATERS: Garamendi was the government's lead negotiator in the effort to save Headwater's, a 7,500 acre ancient redwood forest in California, and bring to an end the decade long battle between the Pacific Lumber Company and the environmental community.

ENDANGERED SPECIES: Garamendi brought the Riverside Habit Conservation Plan to successful closure after it floundered for ten years. The Riverside plan, which protects 66,000 acres of rare habitat in the rapidly urbanizing region, has became a national model.

WATER NEGOTIATIONS: Garamendi tackled the complex and heated California water wars. The "Garamendi process," a conflict resolution process, that forced the cities, farmers, fishing industry, and the environmental community to negotiate a resolution of the long delayed implementation of the Central Valley Improvement Act. Garamendi also lead the US government's negotiations in the on going Bay/Delta program. This program seeks to restore the environment of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers and their delta, while providing for improved water supply and quality for farmers and California's rapidly growing cities.

GUAM: Garamendi was appointed by President Clinton to be the Special US Negotiator to resolve the long standing issue of the status of the Island of Guam, a US Territory. In this role he conducted two years of talks with the Guam Government in an effort to settle the long standing disputes on the nature of the island's relationship to America.

TOURISM AND TRAVEL: He also lead the Interior Department's tourism initiative to integrate the many natural, historic, and cultural resources within the department into the tourism and recreation sector of the economy, and thereby fulfill the goals of the White House Conference on Travel and Tourism.

INTERIOR'S WORKFORCE: Garamendi was responsible for the creation and implementation of the Department wide program to improve opportunities for minorities and women within the department. His diversity task force developed the strategic plan and he oversaw its implementation in the eight bureaus, and 70,000 person workforce.


As California's first statewide elected Insurance Commissioner, Garamendi earned a reputation among state and national consumer organizations as the most effective protector of consumer interests in the nation. He successfully forced insurance companies to honor their commitments. He reduced home owners, auto and worker compensation rates, and he significantly reduced worker compensation, auto and health care fraud.

During his 14 years as a State Senator and two years in the Assembly, Garamendi chaired the Joint Committee on Science and Technology, the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee, and he was the Senate Majority Leader. His laws protected Lake Tahoe and Mono Lake. He wrote laws that reformed health care delivery, established a work oriented welfare program, revised the State's tax code, and developed a State agenda for economic competitiveness, and scientific advancement. His ballot proposition provided $18 billion for mass transportation and highways.


As returned Peace Corps Volunteers who served in Ethiopia, John and Patti were distraught when war broke out between Ethiopia and its former providence, Eritrea. John organized a team of five returned volunteers who undertook a two year mission to assist in securing peace. The team traveled to both countries, met with the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea, the Foreign Ministers, the country Ambassadors, with President Clinton, and top US officials. The team conducted numerous meetings in America with expatriate groups from both countries helping them to reconcile their differences, and to urge them to send the message of peace to their home land. The team was invited to the Peace Signing Ceremony in Algiers at which time both leaders praised the team for its work and the key role that it had in peace process.


In April of 1998 John Garamendi resigned his position as Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Interior to become a partner in The Yucaipa Companies, a Los Angeles based private investment firm. He resigned from the firm in December 2001.


John and his wife Patti have been married for 35 years. They have six children and three grandchildren. They make their home in California.

He is a graduate of the Harvard Business School with an MBA and the University of California with a bachelors degree in business.

Patti and John began their 25 years of public service as Peace Corps volunteers in Ethiopia.

Patti was President Clinton's appointee to Associate Director of the US Peace Corps, and Deputy Administrator in the US Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service.

John Garamendi was born in 1945, raised on his family's California cattle ranch. He was an outstanding scholar athlete in college, where he was a second team All American offensive guard in football, a two time member of the All Pacific Coast Conference team, and the 1964 West Coast heavy weight wrestling champion.


NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION: Presidential appointment to the board of this Congressional authorized support organization for the National Parks.

OPERATION RESPECT: Board Member of this national organization that Peter Yarrow (Peter Paul and Mary) established to use music and art together with an elementary school curriculum of social/emotional education to address violence, bullying, taunting and disrespect among children.

INTERNATIONAL FUND FOR ANIMAL WELFARE, BOARD MEMBER: The foundation is a world wide organization dedicated to the conservation and care of animals. National Association of Service and Conservation Corps: Board member, the association is the national organization that represents 100 state and local service and conservation corps.

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, DON BREN SCHOOL OF ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND MANAGEMENT, ADVISORY BOARD: The board advises the graduate school which is located on five campuses.

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA MERCED FOUNDATION: As a board member and vice chair Mr. Garamendi is active in assisting the new campus in its development of physical and financial resources.

NATURAL HERITAGE INSTITUTE: Board Member of the non-profit law center and environmental consulting organization that advocates the protection of the environment and equitable solutions to complex environmental problems. California State Summer School for the Arts: Board Member of the public/private organization that provides a four week summer program for gifted high school students in California.

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Created from information supplied by the candidate: April 22, 2002 14:27
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