Attorney, McGeorge Law Professor and Elk Grove Unified School District Member
As a newly elected member of the Elk Grove Unified School District — one of the largest in the state — a partner in a law firm representing high-tech companies and a molder of young legal minds as a professor, it’s important for Michael Vargas to give back to the community.
Vargas’ path to public office was not a linear one. Growing up, he developed a strong sense of community service, which continued through his high school and college years. After transitioning into a 9-to-5 job, he felt the need to immerse himself in public service opportunities, ranging from nonprofit boards to local commissions. “Pretty much anything I could find that I said, ‘Hey, this looks, this sounds fun and interesting,’” Vargas said. “It’s a way to kind of give back to my community, whether that was the legal community or the local community.”
When he and his family moved to the Sacramento area, Vargas saw it as an opportunity to build relationships and put down roots. He quickly got involved locally and said he felt comfortable in behind-the-scenes roles supporting initiatives he cared about. “I joke with people that I aspire to the No. 2 position, the chief operating officer or a similar position, because I like making the trains run on time,” he says.
He said he hadn’t initially considered running for office, but when he was encouraged to consider it, he decided to take a chance at the opportunity to serve in a different role. His November 2022 election win made him the school district’s first openly LGBTQ+ trustee. He says as a newcomer to the community, he has a responsibility to step up.
“When we bought our house, we benefited from all of the hard work of community building that other people had done. And so we now have an obligation to pay it forward and an opportunity to pay it forward,” Vargas said.
Beyond his responsibilities as a board member, Vargas is an attorney specializing in business and securities work, primarily serving tech companies in the Bay Area. He finds fulfillment in working with entrepreneurs and exploring their innovative products and services. Additionally, Vargas dedicates his time to teaching at University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law and Santa Clara University, where he imparts his knowledge to students, enjoying the fresh perspectives they bring to the classroom.
He said teaching keeps things fresh and “keeps you from falling into too many routines, falling into saying, ‘Well, you know, this is the way it’s always been done.’”
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