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Biography Pete Stark

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Pete Stark Pete Stark
Pete Stark
American democratic politician - former U.S. Representative from 1973 to 2013.


Pete Stark Biography

ENG: Fortney Hillman "Pete" Stark, Jr. (born November 11, 1931) is an American politician who was a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1973 to 2013. A Democrat from California, Stark's district—California's 13th congressional district during his last two decades in Congress—was in southwestern Alameda County and included Alameda, Union City, Hayward, Newark, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, and Fremont (his residence during the early part of his tenure), as well as parts of Oakland and Pleasanton. At the time he left office in 2013, he was the fifth most senior Representative, as well as sixth most senior member of Congress overall. He was also the dean of California's 55-member Congressional delegation.

Prior to his service to the 13th district, Stark represented the 8th and 9th congressional districts in California. After 2010 redistricting, Stark campaigned for the 15th district seat in 2012, narrowly finished first in the primary but lost in the general election to fellow Democrat Eric Swalwell. He was the second-longest serving U.S. Congressman, after Jack Brooks (D-TX), to lose a general election.


Early life, education, and banking career

Stark was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in general engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1953. He served in the United States Air Force from 1955 to 1957. After leaving the Air Force, Stark attended the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, and received his MBA in 1960. Stark originally lived in the Bay Area, but ultimately relocated to Maryland. He primarily resided in his Maryland home with his family but still maintained a residence in the California district he represented, visiting his constituents twice per month. Since his retirement from public office, he lives in Maryland.

In 1963, Stark founded Security National Bank, a small bank in Walnut Creek. Within 10 years it grew into a billion-dollar bank with branches across Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

Stark grew up as a Republican, but his opposition to the Vietnam War led him to switch parties in the mid-1960s. He printed checks with peace signs on them and placed a giant peace sign on the roof of his bank's headquarters.


U.S. House of Representatives - Elections

In 1972, Stark moved to Oakland to run in the Democratic primary against 14-term incumbent U.S. Representative George Paul Miller in what was then the 8th district. Stark, then 41 years old, claimed that the octogenarian Miller had been in Congress too long. He stated, "Miller entered the House in 1945...28 years ago." He won the Democratic primary with 56% of the vote, a 34-point margin. In the 1972 general election, he defeated Republican Lew Warden with 53% of the vote. He would not face another contest nearly that close until 2012, and was been re-elected 18 times. He only dropped below 60 percent of the vote twice (1980 and 1990). In 1980, he won with just 54%, and in 1990 he won with 58% of the vote. Due to redistricting, his district has changed numbers twice, from the 8th (1973–75) to the 9th (1975–93) to the 13th (since 1993).

He was unopposed for the Democratic nomination in the 2008 election and was re-elected in the general election with 76.3% of the vote. He faced his first Democratic challenger in 2010, and the challenger showed weakening support for Stark, gathering 16% of the primary votes without any endorsements.

In the 2012 elections, Stark's district was renumbered as the 15th District. Due to California's nonpartisan blanket primary, his opponent in the general election was Eric Swalwell, a fellow Democrat almost 50 years his junior. Swalwell narrowly defeated Stark by just under 10,000 votes.



At 40 years (as of the end of service on January 3, 2013), Stark has been the longest-serving member of Congress from California, serving continuously from January 3, 1973 through January 3, 2013. The Hayward Area Historical Society will be the repository of Stark's papers from his tenure.


Real estate taxes

For two years, Stark was allegedly claiming his waterfront Maryland home as his primary residence in order to claim a homestead exemption to reduce his local real estate taxes. Under Maryland law, in order to qualify, the owner must register to vote and drive in Maryland—Stark uses a California address for those purposes.

On December 24, 2008, the House Ethics Committee began an investigation in regard to Stark using his Maryland residence as his primary residence while claiming to live in San Lorenzo. The home Stark claims as his residence and where he is registered to vote is owned and occupied by his in-laws. In January 2010, the House Ethics Committee voted unanimously that the allegations that Stark took a tax break on a property he owns in Maryland were unfounded.





February 13, 2013

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