about dave

Get to know Dave

With a steadfast commitment to the place he calls home, Dave Cortese believes in the power of strong local roots and the potential for positive change that lies within every neighborhood. 

His roots, his love for the Santa Clara Valley, and his strong values are what continue to guide Dave in his life of public service; this includes his career as an attorney and owner of multiple small businesses, as a trustee for the East Side Union High School District for eight years, as a San Jose City Councilmember for eight years, on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors for over a decade, and as your representative in the California State Senate.

A Local Son with Strong Roots

Growing up in the East Foothills of the Mt. Hamilton Range amidst our agricultural beauty, Dave’s love for our Valley bloomed from an early age and transformed into his lifelong dedication towards preserving the vibrancy and essence of this community he holds dear.

Dave learned the values of hard work and determination from his family, one that has been active in local business, culture, and civic service for generations. Building fences alongside his Italian immigrant grandfather, he embraced challenges, a skill that would serve him well in his journey ahead. He would regularly visit his father, former Assemblyman Dominic L. Cortese, at our State Capitol. Side by side, Dave worked alongside his role model, writing letters to his elected officials, telling them about issues he cared about and asking them questions.

He was even able to save up enough money to purchase his own truck through his labor in local orchards – a testament to his dedication and resourcefulness. 

Dave graduated from Bellarmine College Preparatory then the University of California, Davis where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science. He earned his Juris Doctorate at Lincoln University Law School in San Jose. He has four children and is married to his wife and partner in public service, Pattie Cortese, who is currently a Trustee on the East Side Union High School Board.

Dave’s journey from his early days of civic curiosity to his current role as a transformative State Senator is a testament to his lifelong commitment to progress and service.

Guiding our Community with Heart and Vision

Dave’s vision for California is a future where progress is accessible to all. 

He understands that our true strength lies in our ability to come together, and in the California Senate, Dave has translated these ideals into action even in the face of our most challenging issues.

Whether it’s uniting industry leaders and workers to pioneer groundbreaking safety measures in the wake of the fatal “Rust” incident, empowering both flight attendants and airlines to work together and keep us soaring, or working hand in hand with transit employees to bring the community together after the tragic VTA Rail Yard shooting, swiftly securing $20 million in recovery efforts – Dave has remained committed to partnership in the face of adversity.

By hosting Summits on contentious issues such as Firearms Safety and Homelessness, he has rallied the community to not only engage in constructive discussions across diverse viewpoints but to move forward successful new programs and policies together.

Dave’s annual multicultural events and festivals like Day on the Bay, the Sacramento Bus Trip for Education, Picnic by the Lake, Boat Tours of our Wetlands, and the Pilgrimage to La Paz have provided thousands of residents opportunities to use their voice, forge connections, access vital resources, and enjoy local culture every year for the past two decades.

Dave’s leadership positions

Vice Mayor of the City of San Jose 

Board President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors

Board President of the East Side Union High School District Board

Chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC)

President of the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA)

President of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG)

President of the Santa Clara County Cities Association (SCCCA)

Founder of the Joint Policy Collaborative for Economic Development

Chair of the California Senate Labor, Public Employment & Retirement Committee

President of the San Jose East-Evergreen Rotary Club

Board of Directors for the East Valley YMCA, The Tech Interactive, Parents Helping Parents, and several other nonprofits, as well as a Founding Member of East Valley Girls Softball

Building a Better Future

Dave’s journey is far from over. As he continues to write his legacy, it's clear that Dave Cortese will remain a leader who combines his passion with pragmatic action to drive meaningful change for all Californians.

With a lifetime of leadership, Dave Cortese has proven time and again that a better future is within reach when we work together.
Join us in keeping Dave in the State Senate for four more years, continuing to address the important issues he has already been working on.