Your 20th anniversary of being elected to congress is coming up. What have been your proudest accomplishments and your biggest regrets or mistakes from your tenure?
First off, let me say thank you to the entire Central Coast for allowing me to serve them for nearly 40 years in elected office, the last 20 in Congress. [My wife] Shary and I will be forever grateful for this amazing opportunity and I have truly enjoyed my time in Congress working for you.
As I look back over the past 20 years, I am proud of what we have accomplished. My office is the direct link between our community and the federal government. Every day, my staff and I work to improve the lives of everyone on the Central Coast. That can range from finding solutions for the traffic problems in Santa Cruz to looking at ways to decrease crime in our neighborhoods. It can mean helping a senior obtain their Social Security benefits or fighting for a family facing foreclosure. While many of those things go unnoticed to the broader public, they mean so much to the individuals involved. It’s those things that make this job so rewarding.
However, I am also extremely proud of the higher profile work we have done. In particular, every time I look out on to the Monterey Bay, it amazes me what we have accomplished as a community. From the 1994 White House Oceans Conference with President Clinton to the groundbreaking of the National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center, our corner of the world’s ocean has been the shining example of how to best manage our greatest natural resource. We have left a real treasure for future generations to enjoy and I am grateful for the role I was able to play in making all of that happen.
It would be cliché to say I have no regrets but I truly have few. I know that real change happens when a community comes together and pushes for action. So yes, there is still much work to be done and I plan to keep on plugging away in Washington for you. But even if we do not finish it all tomorrow, I know that the entire Central Coast will keep fighting for our values and will create the change we want to see happen. As your Congressman, that is a pretty awesome thing to know.
What have been the most significant changes you’ve observed in congress over the last 20 years, for the better or for the worse?
The biggest change I have seen in the last 20 years is the breakdown of the legislative process. There has always been partisan fighting in Congress but at least both sides were looking to get results. I am not sure that is the case anymore.
When I first came to Washington in 1993, the Republicans challenged President Clinton and the Democrats on every issue. But all of that debate was worth it because when the fighting was over, Washington still achieved something for the American people. Now it seems all we do is fight.
I blame this current brand of the Republican Party because it seems more interested in just opposing President [Barack] Obama at every turn, rather than offering up real solutions. There is a growing gulf between the two parties fueled by partisan anger. The aisle has become increasingly wider and few members on the right are willing to reach across it anymore. The few that do often find themselves on the losing end of a Tea Party primary challenge.
With the parties unable to communicate, the end result has been nothing but partisan gridlock. However, the American people are too smart to let this go on forever. They know that real leadership is about getting results and are demanding more from their elected officials.
Throughout history, our country has experienced previous periods of extreme partisan divide. Fortunately, they came to an end and this too shall pass. My hope is that we do not delay too long because there are serious issues that need attention now.
A 20th anniversary event will be held to celebrate Farr’s election to congress in 1993 starting at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 8, at Asilmoar State Beach and Conference Grounds. Call 373-4607 for more information.