Having just breezed unopposed into his third and final four-year term, District 1 Santa Clara County Supervisor Mike Wasserman believes he’s just now hit his public-service stride.
Los Gatos resident Wasserman, 60, represents the communities of San Jose, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, San Martin and Gilroy on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.
“I’m driven and compassionate,” said Wasserman, who, like other supervisors, is limited to three terms. “I have a head for numbers and a heart for the people.”
Wasserman began his journey into public service as a teenager when he volunteered at Agnews State Hospital. After he earned a degree in psychology from University of Southern California, he married his college sweetheart, Kim, and dedicated his energy to his family.
“You don’t have a lot of time for other things,” said Wasserman, who became a certified financial planner and ran a small business over the next few years.
That’s not to say that he was laying around the couch in his spare time. Before holding public office, Wasserman spent more than 10 years volunteering as a sports coach for 300 kids on 25 youth teams. In recognition of all his community involvement, he was voted “Best Sports Coach,” Best Volunteer” and “Best Civic Minded Citizen.”
Around the time that his kids had grown and left the nest, Wasserman used the Kiwanis Club to expand his personal network.
He was first elected to the Los Gatos Town Council in 2002 and served until 2010, part of that time as mayor. While on the council, Wasserman championed the Youth Sports Park, helped bring the Los Gatos Library up to strict environmental standards and aggressively maintained a balanced budget.
Running for supervisor in his district in 2010 seemed like a natural sequence of events, and Wasserman was able to throw all of his energy into building countywide relationships.
“We have a great relationship built over many years of working on tough issues together,” said Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco, who met Wasserman eight years ago. “He is more than just generous with his time; Mike is generous with his heart.”
Velasco served on Wasserman’s staff until this spring.
Wasserman said he plans to continue working on reducing Gilroy’s homeless population when his final term begins this January.
“It’s the right thing to do,” said Wasserman, adding that funding comes from Measure A, which generates $950 million from bond sales. “Not only is it the right thing, it directly saves the taxpayers money.”
Wasserman also directed county funding to the Morgan Hill Playground Project to build the first all-inclusive playground that’s universally accessible in Morgan Hill. Once complete, the playground will allow children and adults of all physical and emotional abilities to play together.
The supervisor’s work is greatly appreciated.
“Mike is very responsive and communicates well,” said Morgan Hill Mayor Steve Tate. “His varied interests and ever-present enthusiasm make him a delight to work with.”
Wassermann finds peace by teaching his French bulldogs Cocoa, Max and Peaches agility training.
“This teaches me patience,” he said. “You work and prepare, then something unforeseen happens and you have to adjust. It’s a great distraction.”
By David Leland, Special to the Dispatch