Rep. Lynn Woolsey, the former welfare recipient and single mother who jumped from the Petaluma city council to become a leading progressive voice in Congress, announced Monday that she will retire after serving out the current term.
At an outdoor press conference at her Petaluma home, Woolsey confirmed “with enormous gratitude but not an ounce of regret,” that she will not run for re-election in 2012.
Her 6th District covers most of Sonoma Valley except the eastern hills and the city of Sonoma.
“I will turn 75 years old just before the next Election Day, and after two decades of service to this district, it will be time for me to move on.”
An outspoken liberal, Woolsey served as co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. She has been adamantly and consistently anti-war, calling the last 10 years of conflict “a moral blight on the nation.”
Woolsey was the first legislator to force a vote on ending the war in Iraq. “I would not keep quiet even when the leaders of my party might have preferred that I did,” she said. “But the thing is, I don’t work for them, I work for you.”
Though she didn’t always get the votes, she commanded attention and earned respect. “She is a leader on progressive causes and a fighter for working families, and we will miss her passionate voice in Congress,” President Obama said in a statement.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi added, “She turned her poignant personal story into power, always working on behalf of America’s working families and especially children.”
Woolsey, who said her constituents expect her to be engaged on national and international issues, continues to rail against the Afghanistan conflict. “I believe the same relentlessness, passion and tenacity on the part of the pro-peace community will eventually end that war as well,” she said during Monday’s announcement.
Of her accomplishments closer to home, Woolsey noted saving Two Rock Coast Guard Base from closure twice; securing the funding to make Hamilton Airfield the first successful BRAC closure in the nation; authorizing legislation to launch a school breakfast pilot program in Santa Rosa; “and much more.”
On Tuesday, June 27, she presided over the transfer of Skaggs Island from the Navy to the Fish and Wildlife Service. “I’ve worked on (this) practically since my very first days in Congress,” she said, “so this ceremony serves as something of a capstone.”
Woolsey was a second-term Petaluma councilwoman when she ran, and won, her first Congressional seat in 1992. She replaced Barbara Boxer, who was elected to the Senate that year.
The 2012 race, all but conceded to a Democratic candidate, is now wide open. Assemblymember Jared Huffman is a likely candidate, as is progressive activist Norman Solomon; both have formed the requisite campaign committees. Another name in the mix is Susan Adams, president of the Marin County Board of Supervisors.