“My dad had to quit school in the 6th grade along with his brothers because they were trying to save up enough money to buy their own dairy farm, this is kind of an reflection. And the cowboy outfit doesn’t fit me anymore,” says Valley Congressman Jim Costa of his childhood.
The walls of his office are more than just a reflection, they’re a time machine. As soon as you step foot into Costa’s office on Capitol Hill, you’re surrounded by four decades of public service.
“The gentleman with the helmet on is General Kelly, who later became the chief of staff for the president,” Costa says.
From the state assembly, to the state senate and to Democratic congressman, Costa started his political career at the ripe age of 26. He was the youngest to be elected to the California state legislature.
These days, Costa is rubbing elbows with the likes of Joe Biden, and during our conversation in Washington D.C., the secret was already out.
“Biden always jokes with me, he says ‘Costa if I had hair like you, I could have been president,” Costa recalls. “I think he’s joking, about my hair. Oh he’s running.”
When costa isn’t comparing presidential hair-dos, the San Joaquin Memorial grad has been known for reaching across the aisle in the fight for water, ag and foreign relations.
In fact, Costa has his name on nearly 2,000 pieces of legislation. And at 67-years-old, he’s no where near ready to sit in a rocking chair.
“I bicycle 4 to 6 miles everyday, I’m in the best shape of my life, so that energy and passion and motivation to help people has always been my guiding star for why I do this job,” Costa says.
That passion and energy was instilled in Costa at an early age. He says it comes from his mom Leena, after all she decided to complete a lifelong dream of her’s at the age of 82.
“My mom was so proud of this, and I show this to kids who visit and tell them how important their education is,” he says holding up his mom’s high school diploma.
It’s one of his most treasured collectibles in his office. It serves as his reminder to keep fighting for what’s important, he says.
For Costa, that’s putting his stamp on revitalizing downtown Fresno and the high-speed rail along with immigration and health care reform.
Which is a far different world from this 1922 picture his dad was in. “These are here to remember no matter what success you have you always remember where you came from,” Costa says.