State Sen. Raphael "Ray" Musto (D-Luzerne/Carbon/Monroe) announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election and will retire from the Senate at the end of his current term.
"After nearly 40 years of public service to the citizens of the northeast and seven terms serving the 14th Senatorial District, it is time to retire from the Senate," Musto said. "I have been fortunate and blessed, and I am grateful for all the kindness that has been extended to me over the years."
"It has been a privilege and an honor to serve."
Musto, 80, who is completing his seventh term in the Senate, said the decision to retire was a "family decision" and that he wanted to spend more time with his wife Frances, his four children, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
"For many years, my wife and family have had to endure long periods when I've been away from home in Harrisburg and they did so without complaint," Musto said.
The veteran lawmaker served in the state House from 1971 to 1980. He began his career when he was elected in a special election in 1971 to fill his late father James Musto's unexpired term. Musto was then elected to Congress in a special election in 1980.
In 1982, he was elected to the state Senate. Musto has the distinction of being among only a few public servants to serve in the U.S. Congress, the state House and state Senate.
"My father was an inspiration to me and still is to this day," Musto said. "He taught me the value of hard work, good friends and that in public service you don't have to dislike others because you disagree with them.
"It is my hope that the result of my long years of service is that the northeast and all Pennsylvania will be a better place to live, work and raise a family," he added. "I could not have served as long as I have without the support of a loving family, a dedicated and professional staff both in Harrisburg and the district as well as colleagues who listened and appreciated my efforts."
For many years, Musto has been the regarded as a leading voice on environmental issues in the Senate and as a fierce advocate for his district. He was instrumental in the passage of a number of well-known environmental laws, legislation that ensured rights for disabled men and women and has focused recent efforts on issues involved with grandparents raising young children.
Among the notable environmental laws and initiatives that were completed as a result of Musto's work:
Ÿ Legislation that created Pennsylvania's curbside recycling program the largest in the country;
Ÿ Act 165 (1990) a measure that enables counties to be better prepared in the event of a hazardous materials spill;
Ÿ Far-reaching changes to the Air Pollution Control Act (Act 95) that has led to steadily improving air quality;
Ÿ Pennsylvania's land recycling program Acts 2, 3 and 4 of 1995, which has become the national model program for the effective re-use of abandoned industrial property;
Ÿ Act 68 (1999) Pennsylvania's Growing Greener program that has led to the protection of open spaces and farmland preservation as well as water and sewer system upgrades;
Ÿ Establishment of Nescopeck State Park.
For many years, Musto has been the Democratic chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. He has also been chair of the Education Committee, Local Government Committee and served in Democratic Leadership as Caucus Secretary.
A resident of Pittston Township, Musto has been extremely active providing grants and assistance for local road, bridge and jobs projects throughout his district.
He has worked hard to aid the revitalization efforts currently under way in Hazleton and Pittston and has been a tireless supporter of job creation efforts of the economic development group Can-do. In addition, a great many local fire companies across the district have benefitted from grants acquired on their behalf by Musto.
"It is amazing how much can be accomplished when no one worries about who gets the credit," Musto said, attributing his long tenure in the Senate and in public service to his dedicated staff and supportive family.
"My staff both in the district and Harrisburg has been quietly serving residents for nearly 40 years and doing a tremendous job meeting the needs of the local community. They are hard-working, honest and determined to make sure the job is done correctly.
"They are great public servants who, along with my family, made great sacrifices over the years," Musto added. "Being in public service is a tough job where criticism and cynicism come with the territory; but it is also a wonderful job because you can directly make a difference in the lives of people."
Musto is a Korean War veteran who served in the U.S. Army from 1951-53. He is a 1971 graduate of King's College in Wilkes-Barre. He holds Doctorate of Letters degrees from Kings and Wilkes Colleges. Musto has received many awards and honors for his work in the Senate.
The senator's term will conclude on Nov. 30, 2010.