Vic Fazio

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Vic Fazio
Chair of the House Democratic Caucus
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 1999
LeaderDick Gephardt
Preceded bySteny Hoyer
Succeeded byMartin Frost
Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
In office
January 3, 1991 – January 3, 1995
LeaderTom Foley
Preceded byBeryl Anthony Jr.
Succeeded byMartin Frost
Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus
In office
June 21, 1989 – January 3, 1995
LeaderTom Foley
Preceded bySteny Hoyer
Succeeded byBarbara B. Kennelly
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from California
In office
January 3, 1979 – January 3, 1999
Preceded byRobert Leggett
Succeeded byDoug Ose
Constituency4th district (1979–1993)
3rd district (1993–1999)
Member of the California Assembly
from the 4th district
In office
December 10, 1975 – November 30, 1978
Preceded byEdwin L. Z'berg
Succeeded byThomas M. Hannigan
Personal details
Victor Herbert Fazio Jr.

(1942-10-11)October 11, 1942
Winchester, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedMarch 16, 2022(2022-03-16) (aged 79)
Arlington, Virginia, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Joella Mason
Judy Neidhardt Kern
(m. 1983; died 2015)
Kathy Sawyer
(m. 2017)
EducationUnion College (BA)
California State University, Sacramento

Victor Herbert Fazio Jr. (October 11, 1942 – March 16, 2022) was an American politician who served as a member of the United States House of Representatives for California from 1979 to 1999.

Early life and education[edit]

Fazio was born in Winchester, Massachusetts, the son of Betty Virginia (Freeman) and V. Herbert Fazio.[1] He was of Italian and New England Yankee descent.[2] After graduating from Madison High School in Madison, New Jersey in 1960, Fazio attended Williston Academy in Easthampton, Massachusetts in 1961. He earned a B.A. from Union College in Schenectady, New York, in 1965, and did graduate work at California State University, Sacramento, from 1969 to 1972. From 1965 to 1966 he was a Coro Foundation Fellow in Los Angeles.

Political career[edit]

California politics[edit]

Fazio was a congressional and legislative consultant from 1966 to 1975, during which time he co-founded California Journal magazine in 1970. He served on the Sacramento County Charter Commission from 1972 to 1974, on the Sacramento County Planning Commission in 1975, and as a member of the California State Assembly from 1975 to 1978.

Fazio was a delegate to California state Democratic conventions in 1976 and 1978, and was a delegate to Democratic National Conventions of 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, and 1996.


Fazio was elected as a Democrat to the 96th and to the nine succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1979 – January 3, 1999). He represented California's 4th congressional district from 1979 to 1993 and after redistricting changed district numbers he represented California's 3rd congressional district from 1993 to 1999.

As congressman, he lobbied to set aside area as a wildlife refuge below the I-80 overpass between Davis and Sacramento. His efforts led to the establishment of the Vic Fazio Yolo Wildlife Area,[3] dedicated in 1997 by President Bill Clinton. The region is in Yolo County and is known to locals as the 'Yolo Bypass,' a seasonal wetlands generated by controlled fall, winter, and spring flooding. The refuge provides valuable winter habitat for waterfowl and shorebirds. It is additionally used as a Pacific Flyway stop-over by migrant waterfowl and shorebirds during fall and spring migrations, and can be accessed for visitation by an auto tour route.

Fazio won his first seven terms without serious difficulty, but his district was made measurably more rural and Republican after the 1990s round of redistricting. He only won 51 percent of the vote in 1992 against former state senator H.L. Richardson.[4] In 1994, he was nearly defeated, winning by only three percentage points. In 1996 he was elected by a larger margin, winning 54%. He announced he would not run for re-election in 1998, in November of the prior year.

Later life[edit]

Fazio worked as a senior advisor in the Washington office of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and sat on the board of Northrop Grumman.[5] He served as co-chair of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a public policy think tank.[6] He also sat on the Council on American Politics, bringing together leaders from across the nation to address issues facing the growth and enrichment of The Graduate School of Political Management.[7] In addition, he served on the board of directors of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.[8] After leaving office, he became involved in political reform efforts, including joining nine other former members of Congress to co-author a 2021 opinion editorial advocating reforms of Congress.[9] He was also a member of the ReFormers Caucus of Issue One.[10]

Personal life and death[edit]

After his first marriage to Joella Mason ended in divorce, Fazio was subsequently married to Judy Kern (formerly Judith G. Neidhardt) from 1983 until her death in 2015, aged 71.[11][12] He then married Kathy Sawyer, a retired journalist, in 2017. He had two daughters from his first marriage to Mason, Dana and Anne; and two step-children from his second marriage to Kern, Kevin and Kristie. Anne died from complications of leukemia in 1995.[13]

Fazio died of melanoma at his home in Arlington County, Virginia, on March 16, 2022, at the age of 79.[13][11]


  1. ^ "Funerals & Obituaries".
  2. ^ "Order Sons of Italy in America". Archived from the original on March 1, 2007. Retrieved July 21, 2006.
  3. ^ The Civics Connection, A Conversation with Congress. The United States Association of Former Members of Congress.
  4. ^ "CALIFORNIA MARKS 'YEAR OF THE WOMAN' -- AND OF ABORTION FOES". Washington Post. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  5. ^ "Vic Fazio". Akin Gump. Retrieved December 17, 2013.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "Board". Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. Archived from the original on November 11, 2012. Retrieved November 1, 2012.
  7. ^ "Board of Directors". July 23, 2015. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  8. ^ "Board Members". April 25, 2016. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  9. ^ "We Know Congress Needs Reform". West Virginia Gazette. August 13, 2021.
  10. ^ "Issue One – ReFormers Caucus". January 2, 2024.
  11. ^ a b "Vic Fazio, congressman who chaired House Democratic caucus, dies at 79". The Washington Post. March 17, 2022. Retrieved March 17, 2022.
  12. ^ "Judy Fazio, wife of former Congressman, dies of heart failure". Daily Democrat. August 11, 2015. Retrieved March 17, 2022.
  13. ^ a b Kasler, Dale; Lightman, David (March 16, 2022). "Former Rep. Vic Fazio, Sacramento's voice in Congress for 20 years, dies at 79". The Sacramento Bee. Retrieved March 16, 2022.

External links[edit]

California Assembly
Preceded by Member of the California Assembly
from the 4th district

Succeeded by
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 4th congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 3rd congressional district

Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the House Democratic Caucus