By Michael P. Neufeld
Washington, D.C. -A special thank you to Congressman Jerry Lewis for 46 years of public service.
Lewis (R-Redlands) is retiring after serving 33 years in Congress — the longest-serving Republican member of Congress from California. ROTWNEWS was told Lewis is still determining what his future plans will be.
“We are deeply grateful to so many who have provided their support over the years,” Lewis stated. “I have worked hard to justify that support. Thank you all and may God continue to bless America.”
During his tenure in Congress, Lewis represented the mountain communities and the Inland Empire and successfully directed federal funds for local projects.
Residents of the mountain communities need only look at the elimination of more than a million dead trees to reduce fire danger in and around the San Bernardino National Forest as one of his key efforts. Responding to the terrible devastation caused to the forest by drought and bark beetles, Congressman Lewis placed special riders in a series of appropriations bills that sent nearly $100 million to the U. S. Forest Service, state and county to reduce the problem.
Congressman Lewis worked with Sen. Dianne Feinstein to secure $500 million more to eliminate fire dangers throughout Southern California. As a result of the work with San Bernardino County and Forest Service officials, fire danger was dramatically reduced in the past few years.
Lewis also secured funding for improvements leading to the modernization of Ontario International Airport and sponsored legislation that required the U. S. Air Force to transfer Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino and George Air Force Base in Victorville to local agencies at minimal cost — and secured nearly $150 million for improvements at the two former bases.
While Congressman Lewis had his share of detractors he successfully ran for office 17 times and never received less than 61 percent of the vote.
Lewis, now 78, began his public service in 1965 as a member of the San Bernardino Board of Education. In 1968 he was elected to the State Assembly and ten years later was elected to Congress succeeding Congresswoman Shirley Pettis who retired.
Lewis is the first member of Congress from California to serve as chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee and at the time of his retirement was Chairman Emeritus of the House Appropriations Committee.
ROTWNEWS EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
On August 20, 2010, ROTWNEWS conducted an exclusive interview with Congressman Lewis following a Lake Arrowhead Communities Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa. Here is that interview: