BioSam Farr, a Democrat and fifth-generation Californian, represents the state's beautiful 20th Congressional District, which includes all of Monterey and San Benito Counties, and the southern parts of Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties, including the city of Santa Cruz. He grew up in this area, where his father, Fred Farr, was a State Senator for many years.
After college, Sam attended the Monterey Institute of International Studies where he learned Spanish, and signed up for the Peace Corps, serving two years in Colombia, South America. He was a California Assembly staffer for a decade, and then held elective office himself when he became a Monterey County Supervisor in 1975. In 1980, he was elected to the California State Assembly, where he was known for writing one of the nation's strictest oil spill liability laws and being a champion for the organics industry. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1993 by special election when the former Congressman Leon Panetta resigned to assume a position with the Clinton Administration. Sam was elected to a full term in Congress in 1994, and has continued to serve this district ever since. He is recognized as a leader in legislative efforts for educational excellence, environmental protection, and economic development.
Sam serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee which oversees the distribution of the federal budget. Sam is the Ranking Democrat and only Californian on the Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies Subcommittee. He also serves as the Second Ranking Democrat on the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Subcommittee.
Through his work on the committee, Sam has been able to promote and protect the interests of the Central Coast- promoting key agriculture research, lobbying for strict federal organic standards, facilitating the final agreement that conveyed the former Fort Ord to civilian hands, working to establish a veterans' cemetery at Fort Ord, and helping maintain the Naval Postgraduate School and Defense Language Institute as premier educational institutions.
Sam represents the largest National Marine Sanctuary along the continental United States and has long been an advocate for our oceans. He is an original co-chair of the bipartisan House Oceans Caucus. In the late 1990s, Sam authored legislation to establish an oceans commission, patterned off the law that created the Stratton Commission in the 1960s. This Oceans Act was signed into law on Aug. 8, 2000 and in 2004 the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy released a comprehensive inventory of our nation's coastal and marine resources, ocean programs and policies, federal funding priorities, infrastructure requirements and technological opportunities.
In response to this report, Sam and his fellow House Ocean Caucus co-chairs introduced legislation to broadly overhaul our ocean management system, the Ocean Conservation, Education, and National Strategy for the 21st Century Act. This bill has been re-introduced in the 110th Congress as H.R. 21, OCEANS-21.
Sam has worked throughout his tenure in Congress to help the Central Coast to manage and benefit from the closure of Fort Ord in Monterey County. Fort Ord was slated for closure two years before he came to Congress, in 1991. Sam facilitated the final agreement that conveyed the fort's land to civilian hands at no cost and has continued to secure funds for clean-up and economic development on the former base, including more than $65 million in defense conversion funds to start a new California State University at the closed base.
Sam has been instrumental in securing a Defense Department finance center that employs more than a hundred federal workers; a new University of California science research center; a new housing project for the homeless; a veterans' clinic; a business-industrial airport; two new public golf courses; 8,000 acres of new federal parkland, and a one-stop job training and employment center.
Sam strongly believes that the tens of thousands of veterans who served at Fort Ord during its more than fifty years as an active Army training base deserve a final resting place on the grounds of the former Fort. He continues to work with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the California Department of Veterans Affairs to establish a veteran's cemetery at Fort Ord.
In addition to the House Oceans Caucus, Sam is Co-Chair of- the Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus, the Congressional Organic Caucus, the Defense Communities Caucus and the Unexploded Ordinance Caucus. He alo served as the chairman of California's Democratic Congressional Delegation in the early 2000s.
Sam was born on the 4th of July, 1941. He graduated from Carmel High School and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. He and his wife Shary are longtime residents of Carmel, and have one grown daughter, Jessica. They are also the proud grandparents of two seventh generation Californians, Ella and Zachary Fisher.