Eighteen years ago, I was honored and humbled to be elected as your member of Congress. After spending my career as a nurse and in our public schools, I never expected to serve in Congress — but I was eager to answer the call to public service on behalf of our community. Like my husband, Walter, before me, my call to service has been guided by the principle of working to restore the bonds of trust between the people and their government.
As a community, we have worked hand-in-hand to accomplish many things over the last 18 years, and we can and should be proud of the progress we have made at both the local and national levels.
Together we have protected our environment — designating the Carrizo Plain National Monument, stopping repeated efforts to drill for oil off our coast, and using the lessons learned from last year’s Plains oil spill to strengthen safety standards for pipelines nationwide.
We have improved public health by investing in prevention and medical research and passing the Affordable Care Act, which ensures that no one will go bankrupt due to a medical condition, improves access to dental and hearing-health services, establishes school-based health centers to set kids up for healthier futures, invests in the health-care workforce, and makes preventive care and wellness screenings — including birth control, cancer screenings, and vaccines — free.
We have fostered groundbreaking innovation and research at our local universities to help lead the way in clean energy and technology while supporting businesses right here on the Central Coast.
And we have improved services and supports for our local veterans by developing ways for them to use their skills when they transition back to civilian service, strengthening the GI Bill, improving health care for military moms, and streamlining the process for military members to get the benefits and awards they earned.
While I am extremely proud of our work together, in the end, what has meant the most to me are the people: the constituents I encounter on a daily basis who share their stories and concerns for our country with me; the school children I have had the pleasure of greeting on the steps of the U.S. Capitol during their first visit to Washington; the hard-working staffers and public servants who work every day to make our country just a little bit better; and the service members, veterans, and their families who sacrifice so much for our country and often don’t get the recognition they deserve.
It is my belief that together, we have helped to move the Central Coast and our country in the right direction. But there is still much work to do. I know that our Congressmember-elect, Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal, will build on our successes, work hard toward the goals we have yet to reach, and protect the important progress we have made. Together we will support him to do just that.
Representing you in Congress has been the privilege of a lifetime and the best job I’ve ever had. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your support over the years and for all you do to make the Central Coast a place I am proud to call home.