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Jim Beall (D) - District 15


Senator Jim Beall

Jim Beall’s roots in Santa Clara County run deep. Born in San Jose, he is a lifelong resident of the City. As one of ten children raised in a loving home where money was tight, Beall learned values like responsibility, self-reliance, and the importance of giving back to the community. His experience working in the fields picking crops as a teenager taught him the value of hard work and a day’s labor. Jim graduated from Bellarmine College Preparatory and then went on to earn his degree in Political Science from San Jose State University with a focus on Urban Planning and Public Finance.

At the age of 24, Beall served on the San Jose City Planning Commission and, at age 28, he became the youngest person ever elected to the San Jose City Council. In four decades of public service – first, as a San Jose City Councilman (1980-1994), then as a Santa Clara County Supervisor (1994-2006), and finally as a Legislator in the Assembly and Senate (2006-2020) –Beall has left his mark across the Silicon Valley and beyond.

Beall hit the ground running as a San Jose Councilmember representing the West San Jose Cambrian Park area, pushing for critical improvements to infrastructure and affordable housing. In his first years, Beall opened four new city parks and secured funding for the Camden Community Center. He spearheaded the creation of San Jose’s Housing Department to bring smart growth development strategies to a quickly growing city.  Beall also served as Chair of the Santa Clara County Traffic Authority and was the first in California to successfully pass a half-cent sales tax, which directly helped build Highways 85, 101, and 237 throughout the greater San Jose region. 

In 1994, Beall was elected to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. A staunch advocate for increasing access to healthcare and mental health services, he collaborated with his colleagues to pass the Children’s Health Initiative to ensure every child in the county had health insurance coverage. This policy provided affordable and comprehensive health coverage to more than 150,000 low-income children. Beall was appointed to serve on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), where he was instrumental in delivering millions of dollars for local priority projects. He worked to prioritize the BART to San Jose project in the Regional Transportation Plan of 2030 paving the way for it to successfully qualify for and obtain billions in federal funding. As a member of the board, Beall also fought to preserve the County’s vital open space land by spearheading new regulations that would strike the balance between private property rights and mitigating environmental impacts to protect the valley hilltops and scenic vistas for future generations to enjoy.

In 2006, Beall was elected to the California State Assembly, representing City of San Jose and Santa Clara County. Beall got right to work in the Legislature and passed several landmark bills. He authored the first-in-the-nation legislation, AB 12 (2012) which extended foster youth benefits from 18 to 21 years old, improving the lives of over 65,000 youth in the state’s foster care system. Additionally, Beall authored AB 57 (2012) to ensure the cities of San Jose and Oakland had equal representation on the MTC compared to other large cities, bringing more transportation funds to the South Bay.

Beall also fought to increase resources and protections for people struggling with mental health and substance abuse disorders. He was instrumental in guaranteeing mental health and substance abuse disorder treatment was a required benefit for all health plans operating in California’s new healthcare exchange network. He was also a principal co-author on SB 946 (2011), which required private health insurers to be responsible for providing coverage for autism spectrum disorder therapies and treatments.

In 2011, Beall announced his candidacy for the new District 15 seat of the California State Senate, eventually winning the seat in 2012 by a wide margin. During his first year as a member of the Senate, Beall passed SB 838 (2014), more widely known as Audrie’s Law, to help balance the justice system and empower survivors of sexual assault. Audrie’s law reformed juvenile sexual assault statutes by forcing greater transparency in the courts and removing options to dismiss offenders’ charges. In the same year, Beall championed SB 926, which raised the statutory age from 28 to 40 for victims seeking criminal charges.

Continuing his efforts on the issue of public safety, Beall authored SB 11 and SB 29 (2015) to reduce deadly encounters between police and people with a mental illness or intellectual disability. These bills doubled the number of required mental health training hours in the Police Academy, increased mental health training for all Field Training Officers, and required all trainings to be culturally appropriate. 

In 2017, Beall passed SB 1, one of the largest infrastructure bills in the State’s history. SB 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act, increased road safety and repair funding in the State by $5.4B annually while creating over 150,000 new jobs. During the same session, Beall passed SB 595, which provided transportation funding for regional projects in the SF Bay Area. Together, SB 1 and SB 595 financed needed improvements, including: a comprehensive Bay Area traffic relief plan; new BART cars; additional HOV lanes; Caltrain’s electrification and extension; and over $2B for the BART to San Jose extension. His work earned him national recognition, as he was given the American Public Transportation Association Award in 2019 for his leadership and momentous work on SB 1.

The following year, Beall made massive strides to expand the State’s capacity to finance the production of affordable housing by authoring SB 3. SB 3, or the Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018, authorized the issuance of $4 billion bonds for affordable housing programs and a veteran’s homeownership program. Additionally, Beall authored SB 628 to help local jurisdictions finance transportation projects and transit-oriented development by expanding the authority of Infrastructure Financing Districts. This bill helped communities create transit-oriented neighborhoods and business districts to cut traffic gridlock, reduce commutes, and curb greenhouse gas emissions.

As a lifetime advocate for the betterment of mental health treatment and increased access to resources for our foster youth, Beall pushed for major improvements in these areas during his last years in the Senate. He passed SB 906 (2016), SB 150 (2019), and SB 860 (2020) to prioritize foster youth’s registration at public college campuses and add resources to help them obtain college scholarships. These reforms have contributed to higher graduation rates of foster youth, lower-income students, and students with disabilities. 

On the issue of mental health, Beall prioritized mental health funding for youth in the State’s budget, including a one-time $50M allocation and $10M on-going thereafter to boost mental health services in schools. He also authored legislation to establish youth drop-in centers to provide low-barrier mental health services to California’s youth, and secured $15 million to jump-start the program. Further bolstering the state’s mental health resources, Beall championed SB 192 (2018), which ensured Mental Health Services Act funds are spent on services instead of sitting in counties’ reserves. As one of his last pieces of legislation, Beall penned SB 803 to create a statewide Peer Support Certification and Training Program that will expand and diversify our mental health workforce.

When Beall manages to have a few spare moments to himself, he likes to read (generally non-fiction related to policy issues), hike, and hunt for stones that fuel his hobby, lapidary. He and his wife, Pat, have been married for more than 30 years, and he is the proud father of two stepsons and one grandchild.