Panetta takes father’s lesson to ‘serve the people’ at home

Congressman-Elect Jimmy Panetta at the San Benito County Fair in early October.

Congressman-Elect Jimmy Panetta said he will strive to “serve the people” on the Central Coast and work to build relationships with the Republican-controlled Congress.

Panetta won the 20th District Congressional seat, serving San Benito County, with 70.6 percent of the district, or 103,059 votes. Lucius had 29.4 percent of the district, with 42,981 votes, as of Wednesday.

“I’m very appreciative to the voters of the 20th congressional district for having the confidence in me and my abilities to represent them here on the Central Coast,” Panetta said in a phone interview with the Free Lance on Wednesday afternoon. “It’s an honor, and at the same time very humbling to receive as many votes as we did and to know they have faith in me to represent them.”

Panetta said his time as a prosecutor has prepared him for his time in what will be a Republican-controlled Congress.

“You have to look at the precedent,” he said. “Sam Farr will be the first to say most of his 23 years he was in the minority. Yet, he will tell you the way he got things done is through relationships.”

Panetta said he’s learned a number of things from the example of his father Leon Panetta, the former congressman, defense secretary and chief of staff to President Bill Clinton.

“The most important, number one thing, is making sure that you always serve the people here on the Central Coast,” Panetta said. “Nothing beats the service to constituents here. I base that on the stories I hear when I’m out in the district. They received service that affected them.”

He went on:

“Nothing beats the service to constituents here on the Central Coast,” Panetta said. “I base that on the stories I hear when I’m out in the district.”

Farr, who’s represented District 20 for the last 23 years, endorsed Panetta in the race. In a phone call with the Free Lance early Wednesday, Farr said he knew Panetta would win because he did so well in the primary.

“He’s going to be an excellent representative,” Farr said. “He grew up here. He has the DNA of the district in his bones.”

Lucius conceded to Panetta on Tuesday night. She congratulated him on the win and said she’d do all she could to support him.

Both candidates answered questions at an October forum. At the forum, Panetta was asked what kind of presence he would have in the small district.

“It gets back to working together and making sure that you don’t just show up, but that you serve the people of this district,” he said at the time.

Leave your comments