24th District Congresswoman announced yesterday that she will not re-run in next election

Lois Capps

Lois Capps

Representative for the 24th District of California Congresswoman Lois Capps announced her retirement on Wednesday at the age of 77, stating she would not run for re-election in 2016 after serving nine  terms in Congress beginning in 1998.

Capps was elected to office as a Democratic candidate in 2013, succeeding her late husband  in a special election to represent all of Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo counties and part of Ventura County. During her time in office Capps spoke about gun safety measures in Congress after the Isla Vista tragedy, pushed for environmental conservation for Santa Barbara and focused on health issues through legislation that included increasing the availability of emergency defibrillators, expanding opportunities for people to get into nursing and improving Medicare coverage for patients suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease.

In a press release, Capps stated her career was a long and rewarding one that allowed her to tackle many issues in the state and national government, but said it was time for her to step down. According to election results from previous elections, Capps’ election success margin had also begun to fall, with Capps winning office in 2014 by a small 3.8 percent margin over Republican candidate Chris Mitchum.

“Now I believe it is time for me to return home back to the community and family that I love so much,” Capps said. “And so I am announcing that this 114th Congress will be my last, and at the completion of this term I will retire.”

Capps has also led efforts among California Democrats as a member of the New Democrat Coalition to permanently ban new exploration and drilling for oil and gas along the California coast. Capps serves on the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce,  where she is a member of the Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee and the Subcommittee on Health.

According to the press release, U.S. President Barack Obama praised Capps’ political accomplishments and agreed with the Congressional consensus that she is the kindest legislator on Capitol Hill.

“She has led efforts to increase access to healthcare, improve mental health services, detect and prevent domestic violence, protect our environment, and improve education — all while consistently being voted the ‘nicest member of Congress,’” Obama said in a statement.

As Capps steps down in 2016, others have announced their intent to succeed her. Amongst the candidates is Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, who on Wednesday formally announced her intent to run for the position.

“My priorities are simple,” Schneider said in a press release. “I plan to pursue an agenda that focuses on helping Californians reach their full potential by creating more good paying jobs, growing the middle class, advancing more progressive environmental protection policies, investing in our infrastructure and education, defending Medicare and Social Security, and ensuring equal pay for equal work for all Americans.”

Other candidates have not yet released official statements on their intent to run for Capps’ position.

A version of this story appeared on page 1 of the Thursday, April 9 print issue of the Daily Nexus.