Supervisor Joel Anderson

Official Biography

(Download as a PDF)


Supervisor Joel Anderson served East County San Diego in the State Assembly from 2007-2009 and in the State Senate from 2010-2018. Prior to that, he served on the Padre Dam Municipal Water District and the Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego Board of Directors. He has been a longtime grassroots advocate for issues he cares about, and ultimately it was his experience running his own business that inspired him to run for office to make California more friendly towards small business owners. He has a degree in Finance from CalPoly Pomona after transferring from Grossmont Community College in El Cajon.


When first elected to the Assembly, he promised his constituents, "I am not going to Sacramento to be a potted plant."


True to his word, Supervisor Anderson authored a landmark piece of legislation in his first year. Assembly Bill 221 required the California Public Employees' Retirement System and the California State Teachers' Retirement System to divest from companies that violated federal law by doing business in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This legislation called for the divestment of over $24 billion of our public pensions from the Islamic Republic of Iran - the top exporter of terrorism throughout the world.


The bill sparked a national movement which led 28 other states and the United States Congress to introduce similar laws. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced to the world that he would sign AB 221 on the floor of the United Nations during his speech to the General Assembly. 


​To keep our roads safe, Supervisor Anderson authored legislation that same year to make San Diego’s Regional Transportation Management Center a 24/7 operation.


In recognition of the sacrifices made by the men and women of our military in protecting our freedoms, Supervisor Anderson passed Assembly Bill 257 into law, which granted free state park passes to disabled veterans and recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Supervisor Anderson was also recognized with the 2007 "San Diego Psychiatric Society Legislative Award" for his "interest in, sensitivity to, and knowledge of mental health issues."


​In 2008, Supervisor Anderson joined forces with the state's sheriffs and district attorneys to curb the rampant crime of metal theft. For his dedication, these groups named Supervisor Anderson their “Legislator of the Year.”


​His efforts on a wide array of issues were recognized by groups who identified Supervisor Anderson as a champion for their cause. For his efforts to protect the Second Amendment, Supervisor Anderson was named the "2008 California Rifle & Pistol Association Legislator of the Year." He also fought hard to keep public land open for public use during his first term which earned him the "2008 California League of Off-Road Voters Legislator of the Year Award."


​In 2009, Supervisor Anderson focused on fixing the state's economy and bringing jobs back to our great state. Many California businesses began leaving as the state started issuing IOUs. Supervisor Anderson responded by authoring Assembly Bill 1506, which was designed to protect taxpayers from the state's "forced-borrowing" by requiring the state to accept its own IOUs for payment of state taxes and fees.


​Supervisor Anderson’s efforts to protect small businesses and taxpayers earned him the "2009 Lakeside Chamber of Commerce Legislator of the Year Award".


In recognition of his efforts on behalf of veterans and their families, the California Branch of the American Legion named Supervisor Anderson as their “Legislator of the Year” in 2010.


​After being sworn in as the State Supervisor from California’s thirty-sixth Senate District, representing over 1,000,000 constituents, Supervisor Anderson affirmed his commitment to making government work for those he represents. In 2011, for his efforts to protect small businesses during the great recession, Supervisor Anderson was named the “California State Senate Legislator of the Year” by the California Small Business Association and California Small Business Roundtable.


​In 2012, as Vice-Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee, Supervisor Anderson continued his work to protect crime victims by authoring Senate Bill 1371, which passed both the Senate and Assembly unanimously and was signed into law by Governor Brown. SB 1371 closed a loophole in existing law that allowed convicted criminals to avoid restitution to the victims of their crimes.


​Anderson was recognized by American Veterans (AMVETS) with their Legislator of the Year award for his work toward improving veterans’ lives in California.


​In the following year, Supervisor Anderson passed another important measure that preserved California’s commitment to the brave men and women who have served our country. Senate Bill 725 ensured that veterans organizations would not unfairly lose their right to return to halls and buildings dedicated for their use when temporarily displaced for repairs and renovations.

​Supervisor Anderson received the Thomas Paine award from the San Diego Republican Liberty Caucus in 2014 for his efforts to expel three Supervisors indicted or convicted of felonies, including perjury, gun running, and bribery. He strongly opposed changes to the constitution that would ultimately perpetuate the culture of corruption, deny Californians their voice in the Capitol, and stifle minority viewpoints.


​In 2014, Supervisor Anderson was re-elected to the California State Senate, representing Senate district thirty-eight.

WIRED magazine called the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (SB 178), which he joint-authored with Supervisor Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), “the Nation’s best digital privacy law.” SB 178 was signed by Governor Brown in 2015. Prior to its passage, a person’s cell phone meta data, location information, text messages, e-mails and phone calls could be accessed without a warrant.


​​Three more prestigious veterans’ advocacy groups recognized Anderson in 2015 for his unwavering dedication to those who have fought to protect our freedoms. The California State Commanders Veterans Council, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of California, and the Vietnam Veterans of America – California State Council and they all bestowed upon him their “Legislator of the Year” awards.


​Never straying from the principles that he was elected to uphold, a Sacramento Bee study identified Supervisor Anderson as the third most independent legislator based on his voting record, and he earned 100% ratings from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the California Taxpayers’ Association.


During his first year as a Supervisor, Anderson wasted no time in ensuring County government worked for his constituents. From keeping the public safe, to improving fire and emergency safety, Anderson authored or co-authored 22 legislative actions that improve County government, many of which were ideas proposed by his constituents.


​While Supervisor Anderson’s accomplishments are many, the most important role in his life is that of being a husband to his wife Kate of more than 30 years, and a father to their three children - Mary, Maura, and Michael.

Supervisor Joel Anderson's official headshot.

Anderson presents David Dearie with a County certificate of recognition.

Anderson speaks at a press conference.

Anderson presents Barbara Ryan with a County proclamation for her work as VP of Government Affairs at Rady's Children's Hospital.

Anderson with one of his twin grandsons.

Anderson delivers laptops to foster parents in partnership with the San Diego Futures Foundation.