Prior to joining the Board, Cortese served eight years on the San Jose City Council, including two years as Vice Mayor. He grew up in San Jose as part of a family that has been active in civic, cultural and business activities for generations. He is married to Pattie, and has four children. His strong local roots and love for this county fuel his passion for public service.
Dave was educated at Bellarmine College Prep and UC Davis where he earned a Bachelor of Sciences Degree in Political Science. He earned his Juris Doctorate at Lincoln University Law School in San Jose.
Growing up in Santa Clara Valley during a period of great growth and expansion, Dave understands the issues facing our County today. While our exact impact on the environment is a topic of continuous debate, once thing is for certain, as a leader in the community, the County must strive to be as environmentally friendly as possible. Dave has proposed that the County receive 100% of its electrical needs from renewable resources and ensure that all of its buildings are LEED certified.
After years of running his own businesses, Dave has seen the trials and tribulations of the business environment both from the perspective of small business owners and the recent immigrants who are striving for the American Dream. In these tough economic times, he is looking to find ways for the county to become leaner and more efficient without cutting jobs. As Chair of the Finance, Government and Operations Committee, he is in a prime position to be able to leverage the county’s dollars while using innovative, creative thinking to raise revenues to ensure the viability of the county’s safety net.
With his first hand experience gained as a Trustee for the East Side Union High School District including two years as the President, Dave fully understands the need to give students the opportunity to succeed. Seeing the fast growing student population, particularly in the Evergreen area of San Jose, Dave jump-started dormant plans to build a new high school in Evergreen and co-chaired the $80 million bond campaign that led to Silicon Valley’s first new high school in 25 years.
In addition to providing places to learn, Dave believes that all students have the potential to succeed, even if it takes a helping hand. He was a major architect of a continuation program at Foothill High School, which gathered services from the County of Santa Clara and other local governments onto one campus so that students would not have to leave campus in order to interact with Social Services, Probation, etc. Furthermore, he helped expand and fund the City of San Jose’s “homework center” program at the East Side Union High School District.
With the knowledge that children who are touched by the social service system often face increasing hardships in school and life, Dave, as the Vice Chair of the County’s Children, Seniors and Families Committee, has focused his efforts on reducing the rolls of the child welfare system and on decreasing the overrepresentation of minority youth in juvenile dependency, juvenile delinquency and other safety net services.
Seeing the urban sprawl that was so prevalent even just a few years ago, Dave is championing the spread of more effective transportation modes that will ease traffic while at the same time improving the current state of our roads. As a member of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Dave fought hard to bring federal stimulus funds to the South Bay to rehabilitate our aging roads and ease congestion. As a past member of the Valley Transportation Authority, he pushed to ensure that BART will continue its expansion into Santa Clara County and is continuing to look for inventive ways to increase the use of mass transit for the ease of those who cannot afford a car and to ease the burden on our public thoroughfares.
He has also had the opportunity to work with his father, former Assemblyman Dominic L. Cortese over a political career that commenced in 1968. Over that time, Dave has seen the rewards and hard work as well as the trials and tribulations of public service.