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Congressman Farr Will Retire After Decades of Service

Congressman Sam Farr will retire when his current term ends in January 2017.  He made the announcement Thursday at the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas to a room filled with family, friends and supporters.

“I don’t have any doubts that I could’ve gotten elected again and because you in this room have elected, almost counting primaries, 40 times,” said Farr.

But he said looking ahead to his next birthday on the Fourth of July helped motivate his decision.  He’s turning 75 and wants to spend more time with family.

“I’m going to serve as a full time babysitter for my grandkids,” said Farr. “  I think what really hit me is this becoming 75 and realizing ‘oh my god’ my body is not going to be healthy forever.  So I’d rather have some healthy years with my grandchildren.  And I watched people stay in Congress too long, and I didn’t want to be like them.”

The democrat has represented the Central Coast for nearly 23 years.  The 20th District runs from Santa Cruz to Big Sur and inland to San Benito County 

Looking back on his years in Congress, he says two of the things he’s most proud are his role in creating California State University Monterey Bay on the former Fort Ord Army Base and establishing Pinnacles as a National Park.

“The legacy he leaves behind is he got a lot of stuff done,” said Rochelle Dornatt, Congressman Farr’s Chief of Staff.   She says a lot of work has gone into his laundry list of accomplishments, like last year’s increase in the amount Medicare pays local doctors.

“It is not easy.  Let me tell you.  It is not easy. The changing the Medicare payment for doctor’s in this community took 14 years. That’s a long time to work on one piece of legislation, but he wouldn’t give up. He wouldn’t give upon it,” said Dornatt.

Farr has represented the Central Coast since 1993 after winning a special election to replace then Congressman Leon Panetta who resigned to become budget director for President Bill Clinton. 

At this event,  there was a poster size version of that decades old ballot.  There were 26 candidates, including Farr who at the time was in the California State Assembly.

His announcement could inspire a similar rush to get on the ballot.  Earlier this year Republicans put forth their nominee: Pacific Grove City Councilwoman Casey Lucius.

On the democratic side, a lot of names have been mentioned including Monterey County Deputy District Attorney Jimmy Panetta, Carmel Mayor Jason Burnett and State Senator Bill Monning.   But Farr isn’t weighing in.

“Oh there’s so many talented people around here.  The bench is deep, so I’m not going go there right now,” said Farr.

The primary for the Congressional Seat in the 20th District is in June.  The top two candidates move on to the November 2016 ballot.