Don began his career in public service as a schoolteacher. He went on to serve on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors (1986-1994) and the California State Assembly (1996-1998). In 1998, he was elected to the California State Senate. He served as president pro tem of the Senate from 2004-2008.
As president pro tem, Don oversaw the passage of AB 32, California’s cap and trade regulatory scheme to reduce greenhouse gases.
In 2005-06, Don authored and subsequently directed the campaign that won voter approval for a $38B suite of general obligations bonds to rebuild California’s aging infrastructure, including housing, transportation and water. Perata also wrote and passed a $5B revenue bond to rebuild California’s courthouses. All bonds had bipartisan Democratic and Republican support to gain the necessary two-thirds vote in each house.
Don guided other major legislation in health care, in-home services, water development and conservation and cancer, biomedical and renewable energy. In addition to his deep political and institutional background, Don has broad experience in water, infrastructure, energy, and environmental policies, both as an elected official and a consultant. He is versed in the State Water Project, Bay Delta restoration, renewable energy, imported water and water transfers, recycling, conservation, groundwater regulation, local initiative, storage and desalination.