Cardoza, whose 18th Congressional District ranges from part of San Joaquin County in the north to a small portion of Fresno County in the south — and includes Patterson — is leaving his post because of issues related to his family, according to office staff. However, staff members said they would not provide further details out of respect for the family’s privacy.
Cardoza told McClatchy newspapers that he and his wife were facing increasing “parental challenges,” and that “in light of the fact that nothing is going to happen for the rest of the year” it appeared to be the right time to resign.
“It has been a tremendous honor to have been entrusted to represent my friends and neighbors from California’s Central Valley,” Cardoza said in a prepared statement Tuesday. “After over 20 years of serving on commissions, boards, city councils, in the California State Assembly, and, for the last 10 years, the U.S. House of Representatives, I look back with great pride on what we have accomplished together.”
Cardoza has represented the Patterson area for more than 15 years — first as a state assemblyman and later as a congressional representative in 2003. His announcement Tuesday came after he declared in October that he would not seek re-election.
In his prepared statement Tuesday, Cardoza cited the creation of the University of California at Merced, the expansion of the Port of Stockton, expanded protections for abandoned and abused children, and new roads and bridges for the people of the Central Valley among his accomplishments. He also said “he fought for more water for our farmers, so the Valley would remain the most productive agriculture region in the world.”
“As I worked on critical issues facing our nation, my efforts were always informed by the hard-working values and raging common sense of the folks from the Central Valley,” Cardoza said.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and several Central Valley legislators past and present also gave kudos to Cardoza for his years of service.
“As a leader in the Blue Dog Caucus and a powerful moderate, Congressman Cardoza has been a consensus builder,” Pelosi said. “He has worked tirelessly on behalf of fiscal responsibility and his efforts were essential to the Democratic efforts to make pay-as-you-go budget rules the rule of the House and the law of the land.”
Pelosi also gave Cardoza props for his efforts in trying to stem the housing foreclosure crisis in his district.
Former House Majority Whip and Central Valley Congressman Tony Coelho said Cardoza worked well with both parties and was able to rebuild the Central Valley’s political influence in the Congress.
“The Democratic leadership worked with him — and even depended on him — at all levels, and his position was helpful to his constituents,” he said.
Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, whose district includes much of the West Side, said she had worked with Cardoza on various issues, including UC Merced and the California High Speed Rail project. They also had cosponsored foreclosure prevention workshops and worked on state and federal legislation together to assist homeowners, she recalled.
“These have been difficult times, and Dennis has been a source of strength to me personally and as a partner deeply committed to making a difference for the people of Merced, Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties,” Galgiani said.
Cardoza’s resignation comes while the House was in recess, with representatives scheduled to conduct work in their home districts between Aug. 6 and Sept. 10. After that break, Congress will only be in session for 13 days before the Nov. 6 election.
His constituent offices in Merced, Modesto and Stockton will remain open for the remainder of the year despite the departure of their leader, and staff will continue to assist constituents until the new session begins in January, according to office staff. Clerk of the House Karen L. Haas will now oversee the office.
Under House rules, the clerk manages the offices when a member dies, resigns or is expelled. This authority, which does not include voting representation, continues until a successor is elected to fill the vacant seat.
In Cardoza’s case, no one will fill the seat for the 18th district as it stands today, as its boundaries will shift starting in January 2013 following a federal redistricting process.
At that time, the current 18th district will be split among two other districts. A large part of Madera County and part of Fresno County will join his Merced County home base to become the 16th District, where fellow Blue Dog Jim Costa, D-Fresno, plans to run. Meanwhile, all of Stanislaus County will be included in the newly redrawn 10th District, which also includes Tracy and Manteca in San Joaquin County.
Former astronaut Jose Hernandez, a Democrat and French Camp native, and Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, will both vie for the Congressional seat in the 10th district, which includes Patterson. That area incorporates Stanislaus and the southern portion of San Joaquin County.
• Contact Jonathan Partridge at 892-6187, ext. 26, or firstname.lastname@example.org.