Thank you, Central Coast

To be able to really make a difference, for the place you love, for the people you love. That’s the best job in the world.

On the next 4th of July, I will turn 75-years-old. For over half of my life, I have been in elected office, the last 23 as a member of Congress. I love public service and I am proud of what I have accomplished while in office. I’m proud to have followed in my father’s footsteps, the late Senator Fred Farr, and I’d like to think between the two of us we have had a tremendous impact on this region, the state of California and the country we love so much.

When I first came to Congress Fort Ord had just been closed and the community was going through an economic upheaval. Gangs were starting to take hold in Salinas and agriculture was slowly evolving from canned and frozen packaging to fresh-to-table.

I saw all these challenges as opportunities and I acted on them. Fort Ord is now economically stable and growing. We have new federal resources to fight gangs in Salinas and provide opportunity for our youth. Our agriculture is second to none and is the world leader in fresh, organic produce.

But there is still a lot to do and I know I can still make a contribution. Our sanctuary is protected but the rest of the world’s oceans are not. They need a champion. The immigrant labor force that underpins our local economy lives in the shadows. That has to change. Water resources that have become scarce need solutions. I am eager to find answers to all of these challenges. But I intend to do so as a citizen politician, rather than as an elected one.

Today, after over 40 years in elected office I am announcing that I will not seek re-election in 2016 and will retire at the end of my current term in January 2017.

For years my wife Shary has asked me to come home. She’s right. It’s time.

It’s time to come home and spend time with her. To spend time with my daughter Jessica and my grandkids Ella and Zach. Time marches on and I am getting older; I want to spend more time with them. It almost sounds trite but there comes a time when you know it’s the truth and the truth demands respect.

I know I will leave elected office having made significant contributions to improving the quality of life on the Central Coast. Whether it be advocating for affordable housing, insisting (and getting) a VA-DOD health clinic and a veterans cemetery, building a state-of-the-art marine laboratory, creating the 59th National Park or providing seed money to establish a new 4-year university, I am proud of my accomplishments on behalf of the Central Coast.

The Central Coast is stronger. As a region, we are well positioned to seize the next set of challenges.

I leave you with this one last thought from Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” We all have the capacity to be that force and to use it for the best purposes. I thank you for sharing that power with me and now I give it back to you — to share with whomever you decide should carry the torch next.Thank you for all my many supporters who over the years have helped send me to Congress 12 times. It has been a real honor to represent the Central Coast in Washington, and I believe I did you proud. Thank you for allowing me to serve.

And to my family, Shary, Jessica, Ella and Zach, and my sister Francesca, thank you for letting me serve….

…and for letting me come home.