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Rep. John Katko reflects on his years in Congress ahead of retirement

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Matt Coulter
/
Syracuse University
Four-term elected U.S. Representative John Katko speaks at Syracuse University.

Central New York Congressmember John Katko says his decision to retire came after he and his wife both lost their parents. It gave him perspective on how he wanted to move forward in his career and life.

“I’m a firm believer in leaving a little bit too early than a little bit too late. And I really think that, through a confluence of personal experiences and what I was able to accomplish, it seemed like the right time. I’ll be honest, from a competitive standpoint, I wanted to stay to prove certain naysayers wrong, who shall not be named. But that’s not a reason to stay.”

Katko has just a few months left as New York’s 24th District representative. He reflected on his time in Congress during a recent conversation at Syracuse University with Vice Chancellor Gretchen Ritter.

During his time in the House of Representatives, Katko passed a number of bills that will be part of his legacy in Central New York. He’s proud of his work on tax reform, infrastructure, and pushing forward cybersecurity protections.

“We had a very important cybersecurity bill pass this year that mandatory incident reporting for hacks is going to change the dynamic towards threats around the cyber realm nationwide. That’s big.”

As for the future of federal politics, Katko repeated his call for politicians to focus more on passing good legislation and less on getting re-elected.

“I think that’s really important. And quite frankly, I think it’s come to the time where term limits would probably be a good thing.”

But as for his own future, Katko says he doesn’t know with certainty what he’ll do. But he isn’t ready to exit the public sphere just yet.

“Whatever I do, I definitely want to stay in the public services realm of some sort. Homeland security realm of some sort. It’s in my DNA now, so I can’t escape it.”

Katko’s 24th District no longer exists as it was. The state legislature redrew congressional district lines this year. The Democratic and Republican primaries for the now New York 22nd district will take place in June.

Matt Fairfax is an undergraduate student studying Broadcast & Digital Journalism at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, expected to graduate in May 2023.