Congressman Ed Pastor to retire

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor, a Democrat who is the senior member of Arizona's U.S. House delegation, has announced he will retire at the end of this term.

Pastor, 70, was the first Hispanic from Arizona elected to Congress.

"I've been in public office for 39 years and it's been a pleasure to serve the people of Arizona," Pastor said in a news release issued Thursday. "After 23 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."

The Arizona native was voted into Congress on Sept. 24, 1991, in a special election to replace Mo Udall.

Pastor currently serves on the House Appropriations Committee and sits on three subcommittees: the Subcommittee of Energy and Water Development; the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies -- where he is the ranking Democratic member; and the Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government. He also was appointed to the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in this Congress. He has served on the House Ethics Committee and as chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

His decision to not run for re-election is expected to set the stage for a contested Democratic primary in Arizona's 7th Congressional District.

Pastor served on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors from 1976 to 1991.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton praised Pastor's 23 years of congressional service in the following statement:

"Congressman Ed Pastor is one of the greatest champions our community has ever had. He was our advocate on Capitol Hill, successfully helping Phoenix build a light rail system, make critical improvements to Sky Harbor, restore the Rio Salado, and much more.

"What we will remember from his time representing Arizona is not only what he accomplished, but how: by listening, working with both sides of the aisle, and having a willingness to reach a compromise that stayed true to his core values. We're a better community because of his service. I wish Ed and Verma the very best in retirement."

Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema released this statement after Pastor's retirement announcement:
"Congressman Pastor's tireless service will leave an indelible impact for years to come. His leadership on issues that matter to Arizona has made Phoenix a better place to live and is something we should all be thankful for. I am personally thankful to be able to call him a friend and mentor throughout my decade of public service. His presence will be missed, but I have no doubt he will continue to serve the community in whatever he pursues next."

Gonzalo A. de la Melena Jr., the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's president and CEO, said Pastor's public service achievements to Arizona and the nation are immeasurable. He released the following statement:

"Congress and the people of Arizona, and especially our state's Latino community, are losing a great champion and a great human being with the announcement by Rep. Pastor that he will soon retire. Congressman Pastor has been a trailblazer and extraordinary public servant over the course of his storied political career, but we're confident that his next venture will be just as remarkable. We wish Rep. Pastor and his family all of the best and know that whatever challenge he takes up next in life will be a great success."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.