Rep. Lynn Woolsey made it official Monday at her Petaluma home, announcing that she will retire next year after completing two decades as the North Bay's representative in Congress.
"It's been a privilege to serve you, to work with you, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart," Woolsey, 73, told about 200 supporters gathered in the backyard of her Petaluma home.
When her current term, her 10th, expires at the end of 2012, "It will be time for me to move on," she said.
Rep. Lynn Woolsey Announces Retirement
Woolsey identified several accomplishments in her district, including twice saving the Two Rock Coast Guard base from closure, establishing a school breakfast pilot program that included Santa Rosa and getting the former Skaggs Island naval facility converted to a national wildlife refuge.
The Democrat and former Petaluma city councilwoman was elected to Congress in 1992, the "year of the woman" in American politics. A former welfare mother who founded her own personnel agency in Petaluma, she became known for her early opposition to the Iraq war and continued opposition to the conflict in Afghanistan.
"Nothing has animated me more than opposition to the wars our country has been fighting for the last 10 years," she said, calling them a "moral blight on this nation."
Last week she faulted President Obama's Afghanistan troop withdrawal plan as too small and too slow, calling it "a profound disappointment."
Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, introduced Woolsey — whom she referred to as "my girlfriend" — to the crowd.
"You know she is a warrior for peace and justice," said Lee, who co-chaired the Congressional Progressive Caucus with Woolsey.
Woolsey, who has four grown children and five grandchildren, said that family figured in her decision to retire.