John Garamendi joined the U.S. House of Representatives on November 5, 2009. He brings nearly four decades of public service to the House Armed Services and Transportation & Infrastructure committees.
He has been a tireless proponent of job creation, quality and affordable health care, education, environmental protection, and scientific research, while always working to ensure the stability and success of the state he has always called home.
Garamendi was raised on his family’s cattle ranch in Mokelumne Hill. He graduated with a BA in business from UC Berkeley and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Garamendi and his wife started their married life as Peace Corps volunteers teaching and doing community development work in Ethiopia. Patti is now the Assistant Manager at the California Exposition and State Fair and previously served as Assistant Director of the Peace Corps. John and Patti live in Walnut Grove and have six children and ten grandchildren.
As California’s 46th Lieutenant Governor, Garamendi was Chair of the Commission for Economic Development, where he transformed this important body into a powerhouse to advocate for workforce development, vocational education, and research. As a Regent of the University of California and Trustee for the California State University System, Garamendi fought to hold the line on student fee increases and excessive administrator salaries. As Chair of the California State Lands Commission, he led the fight against new offshore oil drilling.
John was elected to the California legislature in 1974, where he served for 16 years, attaining the position of Senate Majority Leader. His laws established California’s emergency medical system, expanded community health clinics, created a work-oriented welfare program, protected Lake Tahoe and Mono Lakes, and developed an overall state agenda for competitiveness and scientific advancement. He authored the Senior Center Bond Act and a proposition that brought $18 billion to public transit and highways.
In 1991, Garamendi became California’s Insurance Commissioner. He successfully implemented Proposition 103, reforming the auto and homeowner insurance industry. He delivered over $1 billion in rebates to insurance consumers and lowered homeowner and auto insurance rates, saving consumers over $24 billion. Under his leadership the Department protected homeowners devastated by the Oakland Hills Fire, forcing insurers to fully pay for rebuilding. His Department earned a reputation as the best consumer protection agency in the nation.
In 1995, President Bill Clinton appointed Garamendi as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Interior Department. John spearheaded efforts to resolve water disputes in California and to protect the Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta. He negotiated the purchase of the Headwaters Forest, coordinated research on global warming, and established habitat conservation plans in California.
Reelected California’s Insurance Commissioner in 2002, he set about rebuilding the Department. His work culminated in new laws that led to a 58% reduction in workers compensation costs. His Home Owners Bill of Rights added protections for homeowners and reduced their premiums by over $500 million. He reestablished an aggressive anti-fraud task force, sponsored legislation to prevent senior insurance scams, improved protections for disabled consumers, and stopped insurance brokers from overcharging business consumers. He developed a comprehensive health care report analyzing California’s health care system with 43 concrete recommendations.
One of Garamendi’s passions is a commitment to international service. He led a group of returned Peace Corps volunteers on a peace mission during the Ethiopian-Eritrea war in 1998-2000, helping to negotiate a peace treaty. Garamendi created a similar team that assisted in peace negotiations in the Congo Civil War.
Rep. Garamendi has forged a reputation as a fierce defender of consumers and a visionary, effective leader. He possesses the unique wealth of knowledge and experience necessary to tackle today’s complex challenges.