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 ó 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. Iíve been honored to serve as his chief of staff for the past 15 years. Sure, there are times Iíve cringed as much as anyone at something he has said. And, yes, Iíve been in the unenviable position to have to help him dig out of some of those statements.
But no one can question Pete Starkís commitment to those who donít have a voice and his firm belief that government is here to improve peopleís 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 donít make íem like Pete anymore. That makes some people happy, but it really shouldnít.
Debbie Curtis is chief of staff for Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif.
Terri Henderson, 6, center, whose mother is El Salvador, attends a rally with members of Congress at Union Station's Columbus Circle to announce the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act on July 29, 2014. The legislation provides incentives for government contractors to pay a living wage and other benefits that would help low-income workers.