Arizona Congressman Ed Pastor announces retirement after 23 years

PHOENIX - Arizona Congressman Ed Pastor announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of his term.

Pastor, the first Hispanic from Arizona elected to Congress, will retire after 23 years of service.

“I’ve been in public service for 39 years and it’s been a pleasure to serve the people of Arizona,” Pastor said in a statement. “After 23 years in Congress, I feel it’s time for me to seek out a new endeavor. It’s been a great honor, a great experience and a great joy for me to serve in Congress. I think it’s time for me to do something else.”

Pastor has served in 12 Congresses, under four presidents and currently serves on the House Appropriations Committee and sits on three subcommittees.

He was elected on Sept. 24, 1991 in a special election to replace Mo Udall.

Pastor represents the Seventh Congressional District that includes most of metropolitan Phoenix, south Glendale, the Town of Guadalupe and Tolleson.

Pastor’s office referenced his role in securing funding for the Valley’s light rail and transit systems, his advocacy for revitalization of the Salt River, his efforts in the Rio Salado and Tres Rios restoration projects and the development of Tempe Town Lake as major accomplishments of his 23 years of Congressional service.

He has been a champion for health care and immigration reform, education, children, seniors and working families, Pastor’s office said in a statement.

“Whenever anybody of that tenure goes, it's certainly a loss,” said Political Researcher and Analyst Mike O’Neil with O’Neil Research.

O’Neil said while he felt surprised by the news, after thinking about Pastor’s long reign in office, it seemed only only fitting the 23-year veteran is ready to retire.

O'Neil has been conducting political research and polls in the Valley for years and believes the Congressman’s successor won’t be much different.

“I guarantee you the winner in that District will be a Democrat and will be Hispanic. I don't see any doubt whatsoever, but there's a lot of people that fit that profile looking in the mirror right now saying 'I can be the next Congressman from Arizona,'" said O’Neil.

Arizona State Representative Ruben Gallego, who will run for the vacant congressional seat doesn’t believe Congressman Pastor’s predecessor has to be Hispanic, but does believe they have to be in touch.

“I think it's important that whoever represents Arizona at least understands and is willing to work with the Hispanic community," Gallego told ABC15.

Pastor's final term will officially end on Jan. 3, 2015. 

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