U.S. Rep. Pete Olson has served his country and his county.
Now he says it is time for a new phase in his life, which signals the end of a political era in Fort Bend County.
Olson, a 56-year-old Sugar Land resident who since 2008 has served Texas’ 22nd Congressional District — which includes Fort Bend County — announced last week that he will not seek re-election when his sixth term is up. Olson, a Republican, said the impetus behind the decision is a desire to spend more time with his family.
“It has been a privilege and an honor to represent the people of the 22ndDistrict of Texas for the past decade in Congress,” Olson said in a statement released July 25. “For six terms, the voters of our district have placed their faith in me to represent their concerns in the House of Representatives. The time I have spent working with them and for them has been a tremendous blessing.”
Olson’s announcement elicited reaction from both constituents and potential successors. Among those who weighed in was Sri Preston Kulkarni, a Democrat who narrowly lost to Olson in 2018.
“It’s no secret that Congressman Olson and I disagree on the fundamental issues facing our community, but I join with the people of Texas’ 22nd District to thank him for his service, and I wish him the best in retirement,” Kulkarni said in a statement released July 25. “We have an opportunity to heal the division in this country, to tear down the walls separating Democrats, Republicans, and independents. Make no mistake, the contest ahead won’t be easy – but the fights worth fighting never are.”
Added Democratic candidate Derrick Reed: “I want to thank Pete Olson for his service in uniform and in Congress. His work on behalf of the district, while not always in line with my views and those of the changing demographic, is appreciated nonetheless.”
Nyanza Moore, an attorney, is another Democrat who has announced she is seeking the seat. Among the Republicans who could seek to replace Olson is Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls, who recently announced he is not seeking re-election in that role.
One of Olson’s constituents said he is out of touch with the area he serves.
“I wish him well. The man doesn’t appear to be a bad person by any means, but was very disconnected to many of the pervading problems in his own community,” Sugar Land resident Wil Smith said. “As a 20-year resident of the Sugar Land community, I only hope that we will finally get congressional representation that includes all in our community.”
Olson, who graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 1988, served as an officer and pilot in the U.S. Navy from 1991-98. He then worked on the staffs of U.S. Senators Phil Gramm and John Cornyn before being elected to Congress.
Olson said that though his time in Washington, D.C. is coming to an end, there is still work to be done.
“Protecting our future and preserving our exceptional nation are the reasons I first ran for Congress. My constant focus was to strengthen our national security, expand our economy to provide more opportunities for hard-working Texas families, and limit the power of the federal government over our lives and businesses,” he said in his statement. “Now, it’s time for another citizen-legislator to take up this mission, not to make a career out of politics, but to help lead in the cause of empowering our people, defending our liberties, and making sure America remains the greatest nation in history.”