FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Democratic U.S. Rep. Sam Farr of California will retire at the end of his term in 2017, ending a career in Congress spanning nearly a quarter-century, he announced Thursday.
Farr, 74, said he decided not to run next year because he has spent more than half his life in elected office and because his wife, Shary, wanted him home more.
"It's a tough decision, but very exhilarating, because it opens up all kinds of opportunities," said Farr, who looks forward to staying engaged in political issues during retirement.
Farr has represented the 20th Congressional District that includes California's Central Coast since 1993. He was first elected to fill the seat left empty by Leon Panetta, who resigned to become President Bill Clinton's budget director. Farr is the ranking member on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture.
Before serving in Congress, Farr spent 12 years in the California Assembly and six years on the Monterey County Board of Supervisors.
Of his accomplishments, Farr said he is proud of helping establish the Pinnacles National Park on the Central Coast, the only national park founded during President Barack Obama's time in office. He noted his role in securing land and federal funding to build California State University, Monterey Bay.
Farr also pointed to his votes for the Affordable Care Act and against both the Iraq War and the Defense of Marriage Act, which barred federal recognition of gay and lesbian marriages before it was overturned by the Supreme Court.
He helped bring the first White House National Oceans Conference to the Monterey Bay area and served as founder and co-chairman of the House Oceans Caucus. He was a Peace Corps volunteer in Colombia in the 1960s.
The congressman said he is confident that his seat will be filled by another Democrat, given the party's stronghold on the Central Coast.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Farr was a champion for veterans, farmers, the environment and working families.
"Congressman Farr has truly devoted his life building a better future for his communities, our country and our world," Pelosi said in a statement.