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Curtis: A Stark Perspective on 40-Year Career

Unlike many lawmakers who have forsaken public town meetings, Stark has never shied away from hearing from his constituents. He has hosted monthly public meetings over his entire career. He even refused to cancel them during the infamous August 2009 health care overhaul debates — believing that people deserved to be heard, even if the forum would be unpleasant.

I could keep going about all the good my boss has done. I’ve been honored to serve as his chief of staff for the past 15 years. Sure, there are times I’ve cringed as much as anyone at something he has said. And, yes, I’ve been in the unenviable position to have to help him dig out of some of those statements.

But no one can question Pete Stark’s commitment to those who don’t have a voice and his firm belief that government is here to improve people’s lives. He has never wavered in his willingness to challenge special interests and take on powerful groups in order to pursue the right public policy.

They just don’t make ’em like Pete anymore. That makes some people happy, but it really shouldn’t.

Debbie Curtis is chief of staff for Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif.

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