SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — U.S. Rep. John Katko, who is leaving office after four terms in Congress, reviewed his accomplishments and offered some political advice at his farewell address Monday night at Syracuse University.
“I’m pretty much at peace with what we’ve done and what we’ve accomplished,” Katko said at the university’s National Veterans Resource Center. “I can’t say it enough how good my staff was.”
Katko, a Republican, is entering his last month representing Central New York. He was first elected to the 24th Congressional District in 2014. Earlier this year, he announced that he would retire after his fourth term ended.
During his time in Congress, Katko voted to defund Planned Parenthood, was one of three House Republicans that voted for an LGBTQ rights bill, and voted for a bill that would protect marriage equality.
After the speech, Katko was joined onstage by Grant Reeher, SU Political Science Professor and the Director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute. Together, they reviewed Katko’s time in office.
“There come times where you gotta do what you think is right,” Katko said. “And sometimes it’s very, very difficult.”
Katko was the first Republican lawmaker to declare that he wanted to vote to impeach former President Donald Trump. After the events of Jan. 6, 2021, Katko said, the decision on the vote wasn’t difficult.
“I knew it was coming,” Katko said. “To me that was kind of a no-brainer. There was an allegation. I voted accordingly. I attacked that bill and decision-making process just like any other bill.”
In a time of strong political division, Katko advised audience members to keep an open mind and to show respect and listen to people with opposing viewpoints.
“People like different bands. People like different restaurants. You can have different political views. It’s okay,” Katko said. “And people in this country have got to get back to understanding that that’s okay.”
Once his term ends, Katko said, he plans to spend more time with his family. He also said that it was a privilege serving in Congress.
“And that’s such a high honor, it’s hard to describe,” Katko said. “And I’ll miss that more than anything for sure.”