Denise Warmerdam has served as legislative assistant for two county supervisors — Jack Sieglock and Ken Vogel — for almost 12 years, and she's a fixture at community meetings throughout Woodbridge, Lockeford, Clements, Thornton, Morada and elsewhere in the Fourth District.
Warmerdam, who lives southeast of Lodi, worked for Sieglock for the eight years he was on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors. She continued in the same position for Vogel when he was elected in 2006.
"She does a great job; she is very valuable to all the constituents in the district," Vogel said. "She knows where to refer people to. She is very professional and conscientious at following through."
Warmerdam turned 48 on Groundhog Day, Feb. 2. She was born in Lodi and graduated from Lodi High School and California State University, Sacramento.
"She's always been very receptive and responsive for anything we've needed her for on the MAC," said Robert Marty, who serves on the Lockeford Municipal Advisory Council. "She's attended numerous meetings representing Ken, and Jack before that. She seems to be a very good listener."
Warmerdam will celebrate her 25th anniversary this year with her husband, Marc. They have five children, Brandon, 23, Britnee, 21, twins Brett and Breanna, 20, and Brock, 14.
Warmerdam responded to an e-mailed questionnaire from News-Sentinel reporter Ross Farrow.
Q: What did you do before working for Jack Sieglock as his legislative assistant in 1999?
A: While at Sac State, I took a political communications class, and as a project, we worked on California State Assemblyman Phil Isenberg's campaign as part of a project. I think that's where I caught the "political bug."
Before working for Supervisor Sieglock, I worked as an assistant parish administrator for St. Anne's Church. I loved that job, had great friends in the parish, and it was a tough decision for me to leave to work for the county.
Q: How did you become a legislative assistant?
A: After Jack was elected, he asked me if I would consider working for him as his legislative assistant. At that point, I attended a few of the Board of Supervisors meetings to see what I might be in for. I also had the opportunity to talk with then-Supervisor George Barber about how he managed his office.
Q: Any differences working for Jack Sieglock and Ken Vogel? How are their styles alike and different?
A: First of all, I feel I've been very blessed to have the job I do. I've had the opportunity to work for two wonderful gentlemen. Both Supervisor Sieglock and Supervisor Vogel have an incredible work ethic, and I've learned a lot from each of them.
Jack and I were friends before I began working with him, so the transition into a work environment was not difficult at all. Because he had been a member of the Lodi City Council, Jack had some public service experience.
We worked very well together and worked hard to represent the district. Jack had an interest in economic development and was concerned about the future of the economy. I watched Jack have to make difficult decisions while always maintaining the respect of those he worked with.
I met Supervisor Vogel before he was elected, and I was immediately impressed. I was honored when he asked me to remain in my position as his legislative assistant.
Ken has a background in education. He also is a farmer, which has served him well with District 4 being mostly rural. He has done an incredible job representing the ag community. He is also working hard daily to fight the water wars currently taking place. The amount of time he spends on water issues is phenomenal, and he never complains.
Q: What do you enjoy most about being a legislative assistant?
A: I truly enjoy working with the public. When a constituent contacts our office, I try to work hard to address their concerns. Most of the time, we are able to solve their issue or at least give them proper resources.
I have the opportunity to represent Supervisor Vogel at many community meetings, and I've met a lot of wonderful people. Our district has two community centers and five municipal advisory councils that I have the pleasure of working with.
District 4 stretches from Thornton to Escalon. We get constituent calls regarding everything from code enforcement issues to requests for youth services. Once, I even had a call from a constituent who had a raccoon stuck in her chimney (that was a tough one).
Occasionally, a constituent will call the office just to say "thank you" — those are special calls.
Q: How many hours a day do you usually put in?
A: My work day consists of eight-plus hours. We do have a lot of evening meetings, which of course adds to the day!
Q: I'm sure there's no such thing as a "typical day," but what is a typical day for you?
A: My typical day begins around 5 a.m. I have one grade school-age son whom I have to make lunch for and get organized for his day. I enjoy getting to the office early. If we don't have an evening meeting, it's dinner, homework and time spent catching up with the kids. When we do have them, evening meetings can frequently last until 9:30 or 10 p.m.
Q: Aside from being a legislative assistant, how are you involved in the community?
A: Outside of work, I am very involved with my parish — St. Joachim's Catholic Church in Lockeford. I have served as a board member and past president of the Pregnancy Resource Center in Lodi and continue to support its mission. I also serve on the Court-Appointed Special Advocates Advisory Council for the Child Abuse Prevention Council, and, I've recently been recruited to serve on the executive leadership team for the "Go Red for Women" campaign with the American Heart Association. Doreen Bestolarides, Supervisor Steve Bestolarides' wife, is the chairperson for the campaign this year, and I'm honored to be working with her.
Q: What do you do to unwind?
A: I love to spend time in my yard. I enjoy (much to my husband's distress) an assortment of pets from pygmy goats to pugs, and I have fun spending time with them. I love my pugs!
Q: What do you grow and raise on your ranch?
A: My husband farms winegrapes for his family. Together, we farm cherries on our property. My youngest son also raises swine for 4-H.
Q: What is one of your most prized possessions?
A: I have a favorite, very old and weathered, prayer book that belonged to my husband's grandmother. It has a cherished place where I look at it daily.
Q: What are your favorite books, TV shows and movies?
A: I love to read. I enjoy books by Wally Lamb, David Baldacci and, of course, anything written by Nicholas Sparks.
I enjoy the TV show "Brothers & Sisters" — about a big family, lots of characters and lots of chaos.
While we don't see a lot of movies, we did see "The Blind Side" during the holidays, and I loved it. What an awesome story.
Q: If you were stranded on a desert island, what three CDs would you like to have and why?
A: My absolute favorite CD is James Taylor's "October Road." My other favorites would be Amy Grant's "Rock of Ages" and Selah's "Hiding Place." These last two are very inspirational.
Q: Anything else you'd like to add?
A: People often ask me what its like to work in the political arena. As often as I can, I tell everyone that San Joaquin County is truly blessed by the gentlemen currently serving as our Board of Supervisors.
Each one is a man of integrity, and each works hard to serve the public. Our county has some difficult times ahead, but we've got some great people in leadership roles to help guide us.
And did I mention MY PUGS?!?