SAN MATEO, Calif. - The political world reacted to the news Tuesday that is longtime Peninsula Congresswoman Jackie Speier will not run for reelection next year.
"Today, I’m announcing that I will not be a candidate for re-election to Congress in 2022. It’s time for me to come home," said Speier, who represents the 14th district of California.
After nearly 14 years of influencing national policies, Jackie Speier announced it’s her political end.
"I’m sad. I feel that she’s done an awful lot for all of us," said resident Janis Kelly, who lives in the 14th district. Added Sonoma State University political scientist Dr. David McCuran, "You won’t see another Jackie Speier, ever. I mean this is a person whose life has been defined by tragedy, and arise from that tragedy."
Karen Lorraine Jacqueline "Jackie" Speier stepped into the national spotlight before being elected to office. She was part of a U.S. fact-finding delegation to Jonestown with then-congressman Leo Ryan. The 1978 trip was a last-ditch attempt to free members from Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple.
Former KTVU senior reporter Bob McKenzie covered the trip’s aftermath.
"Ryan’s assistant, Jackie Speier, interviews the park family," McKenzie said in the KTVU story at that time. A younger Speier is then shown asking a couple, "Now do I understand that you both want to leave Jonestown..."
Shortly after that interview, gunfire erupted at the Guyana airport. Cult members shot and killed Congressman Ryan and four others. Speier was hit by five bullets but survived.
"She came back, and she decided to run for public office. What kind of person does that? It’s a real commitment to public service," said San Jose State University political scientist Donna Crane.
Speier moved from being elected to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors to election into the state legislature.
As her political star rose, tragedy hit again in 1994 when her first husband was killed in a car crash. Speier stayed in public service, ultimately succeeding Tom Lantos as the 14th Congressional District representative.
Supporters give her high marks fighting for, among other things, gender equality, the environment, and the less fortunate.
"I think she’ll be a great loss to congress. She’s been a great representative for us in San Mateo. She’s been a great advocate for progressive values and she’ll be missed," said resident David Usher.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who also represents the Bay Area, praised Speier in a statement, calling her "a force in the fight to combat sexual assault and harassment in all places."
East Bay Congresswoman Barbara Lee said of Speier: "Her voice, passion, and brilliant leadership will be sorely missed in Congress."
San Mateo Board of Supervisors president David Canepa also reacted, saying Speier, "endured tragedy after tragedy as a human and never wavered, never gave up on herself, her family, or the constituents she serves."
"There are more chapters in my life book. And I look forward to writing those chapters with the people l know and love," Speier said at the end of her video message.
The congresswoman has one year left in office. There is already a lot of talk about who will vie to replace her and if the trend of retiring Democrats will flip power in Congress.