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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
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United States

U.S. House of RepresentativesCandidate for District 20

Photo of Jimmy Panetta

Jimmy Panetta

Deputy District Attorney
180,980 votes (70.8%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Comprehensive immigration reform
  • Protecting our environment and precious coastline
  • Improving education and college affordability



Profession:Deputy District Attorney
Deputy District Attorney, Monterey County District Attorney's Office (2010–current)
Vice-Chair, Monterey County Democratic Central Committee — Elected position (2012–2016)
Deputy District Attorney, Alameda County District Attorney's Office (1996–2010)
Outreach Coordinator, Legal Services for Seniors (1993–1993)
Research Associate, Monterey Institute of International Studies (1992–1993)
Clerk, U.S. Department of State (1991–1992)


Santa Clara University Law School Juris Doctorate, Law (1996)
University of California, Davis Bachelor of Arts, International Relations (1991)
Monterey Peninsula Community College AA, General Education (1989)

Community Activities

Advisory Council Member, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (2013–current)
Chair, Monterey Peninsula Community College Bond Oversight Committee (2012–current)
Member, Rancho Cielo Youth Campus Board of Directors (2013–current)
Member, Community Foundation for Monterey County Board of Directors (2014–current)
Member, Veterans Transition Center (2011–2016)


From an early age, Jimmy Panetta was instilled with the value of service and the importance of giving back to our community and Country.

Jimmy currently serves as a Deputy District Attorney in Monterey County.  For the past five years, he was assigned to the Gang Team in Salinas, responsible for prosecuting violent gang members.  Jimmy began his legal career in 1996, as a prosecutor for the Alameda County District Attorney's Office in Oakland. Based on his experience in the criminal justice system - pursuing justice for victims, protecting families, and making communities safer, Jimmy was appointed to the California Councils on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, which provided guidance to the Governor’s Office on critical criminal justice programs.

In 2003, Jimmy was commissioned as an Intelligence Officer with the United States Navy Reserve.  Four years later, he voluntarily took a leave of absence from work and left home to serve on active duty with a Special Operations task force deployed to Afghanistan. Based on his meritorious service in a combat zone, Jimmy was awarded the Bronze Star.

Jimmy will never forget those with whom he served.  As a board member of the Veterans Transition Center, he worked to end veterans’ homelessness and pushed for the opening of Monterey County’s first Veterans Treatment Court, ensuring that veterans receive the services they have earned. Moreover, Jimmy worked with local leaders and fellow veterans to help establish the Central Coast Veterans Cemetery.  Based on his work, Jimmy was named a Monterey County Veteran of the Year in 2015.  Jimmy’s experience with foreign policy extends beyond the military.  He previously worked on missile and chemical weapons nonproliferation issues for the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. and at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. 

Educating our children and expanding economic opportunities have always been priorities for Jimmy.  He is active with the Rancho Cielo Youth Campus that assists at-risk youth with job training and placement.  Jimmy also chairs the Monterey Peninsula College Citizens Bond Oversight Committee and serves as a Trustee on the Foundation for the University of California at Santa Cruz.  Additionally, Jimmy has served on the Board of Directors of the Community Foundation for Monterey County and the National Steinbeck Center. 

Jimmy is an associate member of the Monterey and Santa Cruz County Farm Bureaus and is committed to protecting our coastal environment, as demonstrated with his service aboard a research ship for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency and on the Advisory Council for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Jimmy received his law degree from Santa Clara University and his undergraduate degree in International Relations from the University of California at Davis.  Having grown up on the central coast of California, Jimmy  attended Monterey Peninsula College and the local public schools.  He was a league wrestling champion in high school.

Jimmy is married to Carrie McIntyre Panetta.  Jimmy enjoys spending time with Carrie and their two daughters, Siri and Gia, especially attending his daughters’ music and sporting events.

Who supports this candidate?

Organizations (52)

Questions & Answers

Questions from The League of Women Voters of California Education Fund and California Counts, a public media collaboration. (4)

The Federal Government plays a part in California water allocation and use through a variety of laws.  What, if any, legislation would you support in an effort to handle water shortages caused by the current and any future drought?
Answer from Jimmy Panetta:

Few things are as complex as water policy. True solutions to our water problems must come by bringing together all levels of government – local, state and federal.  The role of Congress is to convene all of the appropriate agencies, all of the different levels of government and all of the different constituencies, to work together to cut through the bureaucracy and find real solutions.

In the 20th Congressional District, we are continually faced with issues that threaten our water quality like saltwater intrusion, nitrates, and runoff.  Reasonable and sustainable management of groundwater resources is critical for the Central Coast because of our reliance on groundwater for drinking water and irrigation.  California has been the leader on water quality issues and we need to continue to build upon the science and use evidence based practices to ensure that quality standards are met.  

We also need to ensure that our delivery systems are up to date.  Our infrastructure is old and crumbling and we cannot allow another Flint Michigan incident to occur.  We must prioritize fixing our aging infrastructure by investing in long term improvements. 

Additionally, we must assist state and local authorities in finding answers to our chronic water shortages that affect farmers, residents and businesses. This will take a number of solutions, including aquifer storage and recovery, recharge opportunities, recycling and desalination - and most importantly, input from all stakeholders. 


I would support legislation that provides short term water supplies to drought stricken areas of California, while providing for long term investments in drought resiliency and funding for storage.  Any legislative package that I support will have to benefit all of the Central Coast.  Focus on our water issues must remain a priority, even when the immediate pressures of a drought are temporarily alleviated.

Should immigration laws be changed?  What changes would you support?  Please explain why.
Answer from Jimmy Panetta:

As the grandson of immigrants who crossed an ocean for the opportunity offered by America, I understand that finding a path for immigrants to succeed is fundamental to who we are as a nation. I believe that the time has come for Congress to stop playing politics and get serious about passing common sense immigration reform. America must recognize that children of immigrants born in this country – the so called “dreamers” – should have the chance to earn their way to citizenship in this country.  The answer is not deporting millions of hard working immigrants – rather it is creating a path to citizenship for law-abiding families paying taxes and those willing to play by the rules. They have fought to come here – and many have brought prosperity to their families and the California economy through their hard work and ingenuity. My goal is comprehensive immigration reform that strengthens border security, provides effective worker programs, and educational opportunities for the children of immigrants.

What, if anything, does the U.S. need to do in order to address national security and terrorism? Please explain your answer in detail.
Answer from Jimmy Panetta:

As an Intelligence Officer in the United States Navy, I served with a Special Operations task force in Afghanistan that was at the forefront of the fight against terrorism. That experience gave me a special understanding of the leadership role that America must continue to have around the world to keep terrorists at bay while promoting democracy and human rights. We must protect America’s vital interests around the world with a combination of skillful diplomacy and a strong defense. Right here on the Central Coast, we have two of the leading institutions battling terrorism that together provide $1.4 billion a year to our local economy: The Defense Language Institute and the Naval Postgraduate School. I am committed to making sure these institutions are able to maintain their vital role in protecting America. In today’s world of foreign aggression and terrorism, I will make protecting our homeland a top intelligence and security priority while never losing sight of the privacy safeguards that define freedom in America.  My goal is to keep America safe by supporting a strong defense, smart diplomacy, and secure alliances, through effective counter-terrorism operations.


The political climate in Washington, D.C. has been extremely partisan in recent years. In that kind of atmosphere, what would you do to get things done while in office?
Answer from Jimmy Panetta:

I realize that this is a challenging time in American politics. My goal is to do all that I can to strengthen the trust between the voters and their elected representatives.  In order to obtain that objective, my priority, first and foremost, is to serve all of the people of the 20th Congressional District. That starts by knowing, listening, and responding to the people and our issues on the Central Coast.  With that understanding and empathy, I would bring fresh ideas, new energy, independent thinking, and I will do everything in my power to renew the collaborative spirit that is necessary to get things done.

Who gave money to this candidate?


Total money raised: $1,599,223

Top contributors that gave money to support the candidate, by organization:

Employees of Tanimura & Antle
National Association of Realtors and employees
American Federation of Teachers
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
National Beer Wholesalers Association
National Education Association
United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America

More information about contributions

By State:

California 66.77%
District of Columbia 16.31%
Virginia 4.80%
Maryland 2.42%
Other 9.70%

By Size:

Large contributions (94.85%)
Small contributions (5.15%)

By Type:

From organizations (29.64%)
From individuals (70.36%)
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the Federal Election Commission.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

I realize that this is a challenging time in American politics and that this election is unlike those in recent memory.  What has become evident during this election season is that a great number of Americans are dissatisfied with our government and have had enough of the dysfunction in Washington.  My goal is to strengthen the trust between the voters and their elected representatives.  My priority will be to go to Washington to get things done. 

In order to realize my goal, I understand that it takes a commitment to fight for the issues important to the people of the 20th Congressional District.  Since November of last year, I have been tireless in getting out into the community to meet, listen to, and respond to the residents of the Central Coast.  As someone who was raised, and has deep familial roots, on the Central Coast, I am instilled with the sense of belonging and service that is necessary to effectively represent this area in the United States Congress.  I also understand that to obtain my objective, it will take working “across the aisle” and not engaging in divisive and destructive negative politics.


I have a proven track record of working with diverse individuals to get results.  This includes helping to get the Veterans Cemetery built at the former Ford Ord, serving as an Intelligence Officer with a Special Forces task force in Afghanistan to combat the enemy, and protecting the public safety and obtaining justice for victims of crime by working as a deputy district attorney. 


If elected your representative, I will bring fresh ideas, new energy, independent thinking, and a bipartisan collaborative spirit to Capitol Hill.  As your United States Representative in Congress, I will work with and zealously serve all of the people of the 20th Congressional District.


I am excited by this opportunity to run for Congress and to continue serving our community and country.  I hope that I can earn your support and your vote.  I look forward to seeing you out on the campaign trail!

Position Papers



Preserving and protecing our environment and priceless coastline.

Our coastline is priceless and keeping it that way is essential. Protecting our environment will always be one of my top priorities. In Congress, progress can only be made by listening to all sides and bringing everyone to the table to find solutions. I know that collaboration is the key to getting competing interests to work together for common good because our local economy, tourism, and agriculture are all dependent upon protection of our water, farmland and forests. As a member of the Advisory Council for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, I have witnessed the importance of the collaboration between our marine research institutions and the health and well being of our oceans and marine life. I know that the future of the Central Coast starts by addressing climate change and aggressively promoting a clean energy economy that creates reliable new jobs for generations to come.  My goal is protecting the beauty of the Central Coast both here and in Washington, and I will be a strong voice for continuing California’s leadership on the important issues of controlling clean air and water for the enjoyment of outdoor enthusiasts, the health of our families, and the future of our planet. 



Improving education and making college more affordable.

There is no greater gift a parent can give to a child than a first-rate education. In Congress, I will fight to make sure all of our children get the same opportunity to thrive.  I am committed to making sure the Every School Succeeds Act (ESSA) achieves its goals of providing opportunity to every child, reducing the overreliance on standardized testing, and bringing educators into the decision-making process. I will fight to fund Head Start – which since its inception in 1965 – has given over 32 million low-income children educational, nutritional and health opportunities.  For those interested in college, I am committed to making higher education both accessible and affordable. Before graduating from U.C. Davis, I attended Monterey Peninsula Community College, so I understand firsthand the impact our community colleges can make by giving students the academic foundation, job training and skills for a path to success. That appreciation has led me to give back to MPC through my work as the chair of the MPC Citizens Bond Oversight Committee.  I also serve as a Trustee on the Foundation for the University of California at Santa Cruz, where I helped ensure that high school students from Salinas were exposed to and, ultimately, attended that world-class university.  As a board member of the National Steinbeck Center (NSC), I worked on the deal for California State University at Monterey Bay (CSUMB) to purchase the NSC building in order to help that amazing university reach the students of the Salinas Valley.  In Congress, I am committed to making college loans more affordable and finding innovative ways to help students reduce their debt.  I will also focus on expanding pre-K and early education options for families and improving the Migrant Education Program to help immigrant children meet the challenges of enrolling in American schools.  My goal is to establish national service programs that provide educational benefits to those willing to serve the nation.

Economy and job creation


Expanding the local economy and protecting the economic engines in this region.

Expanding the local economy, investing in innovation and clean energy, raising wages, supporting workers through job training programs, and helping small businesses grow will be among my top priorities.  Our local economy relies on agriculture, tourism, and the strength of our educational institutions, so finding the right balance is critical.  The Central Coast is among the most agriculturally diverse in the nation (both conventional  and organic) and is a global leader poised to play a part in solving some of the toughest problems facing developing nations.  With these opportunities come challenges, and we must manage regulation and development in a responsible way that allows businesses to grow while ensuring the preservation of the natural treasures that drive tourism, research, and education. Having attended Monterey Peninsula College, I understand the role of accessible higher education in preparing students for the workforce. I will work to make sure all our local colleges take a similar innovative approach to education that Cabrillo College uses when it takes county Workforce Investment Board and Employment Development Department information to drive its curriculum to make sure it is offering classes in skills that meet the demand for local businesses. My goal is to strengthen the economic industries critical to jobs on the Central Coast – agriculture, tourism, technology, research, and education.

Videos (5)

— May 13, 2016 Jimmy Panetta for Congress
— May 13, 2016 Jimmy Panetta for Congress
— May 30, 2016 Jimmy Panetta for Congress
— May 30, 2016 Jimmy Panetta for Congress
— October 7, 2016 Jimmy Panetta

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