The Northern San Joaquin Valley has been generally well served over the past 20 years by Dennis Cardoza -- first in local office, then in the Legislature and for the past eight-plus years in Congress.
Thus, we were disappointed by Cardoza's announcement Thursday that he won't seek re-election next year.
At the same time, we weren't surprised by his decision. There were hints of it this summer, especially after the new congressional maps -- still under challenge -- put Cardoza in the same district as his Democratic Party colleague Jim Costa and took Cardoza out of Stanislaus and part of southern San Joaquin County.
And Cardoza also has shown increasing frustration with the Obama administration and with how things get done -- or don't get done -- in Washington, D.C.
His retirement announcement reflects that disgust, as he advised voters to "reward statesmanship. Too many Americans are losing faith in our government and our democracy. For our country to change course, voters must aggressively punish extreme partisanship and rhetoric when they cast their ballots."
Throughout his political career, Cardoza has consistently been what we consider a Valley Democrat, leaning conservative on many issues and weighing in strongly in favor of agriculture.
His most lasting contribution has been his tireless advocacy for UC Merced.
Cardoza has another 14 months in office, and we are confident that he'll stay focused on key issues for his constituents, especially the economy and the devastating impact of the foreclosure crisis.
He and others have consistently tried -- unsuccessfully so far -- to get President Barack Obama to visit the Valley to see firsthand the extent of the economic destruction. We hope Cardoza will continue to do that, as well as using his influence on the transportation and ag bills.
Under the new congressional maps, all of Stanislaus County, plus Escalon, Ripon and other parts of southern San Joaquin County, will be in the 10th District. Merced and Madera counties will be part of the 16th Congressional District, along with more than 300,000 residents of Fresno County. It's imperative that whoever represents that district not be so Fresno-oriented that the northern counties' needs and issues don't get the attention they deserve.
There will plenty of time before Cardoza leaves office to more fully assess his successes and shortcomings in public office, but we are convinced there have been far more of the former than the latter. In the meantime, we wish him well as he completes his final months in elective office.
Editorials are the opinion of the Merced Sun-Star editorial board. Members of the editorial board include Publisher Eric Johnston, Executive Editor Mike Tharp, Online Editor Brandon Bowers and Guest Editor Irene de la Cruz.