Former Rep. Barbara Boxer, redistricting and the late Judge Joseph Rattigan of Santa Rosa figured in Lynn Woolsey's first bid for Congress in 1992.

It was Boxer's decision to run for — and win — her U.S. Senate seat that left the 6th Congressional District wide open in 1992.

The district, during Boxer's 10-year tenure, had covered southern Sonoma and Marin counties, as well as eastern San Francisco, Daly City and a corner of Solano County.

Redistricting in the wake of the 1990 census converted the 6th District to a compact Marin-Sonoma package, with Woolsey's Petaluma home in its midst, rather than on the northern edge.

"A perfect district for Lynn Woolsey," Woolsey said Monday, as she announced her retirement next year after 20 years in Congress.

A lot of people wanted Woolsey, then a second-term Petaluma councilwoman, to run in 1992. Rattigan, who served as a state senator and state appeals court judge, gave her a special boost.

"Go get &‘em and you're going to win," Woolsey recalled Rattigan telling her. About 400 people, including Woolsey and North Coast Rep. Mike Thompson, attended his funeral in 2007.

"I won on my 55th birthday and never looked back," Woolsey said Monday.

The initial redistricting proposal for 2012 — creating a coastal district from Marin County to the Oregon border — had nothing to do with her decision to retire, she said.

But she urged residents to write to the California Citizens Redistricting Commission objecting to the proposed coastal district, calling it a "silly configuration."