Now in his third term in Congress, Dennis Cardoza has established a reputation as an effective, fiscally-responsible legislator who delivers results for the Central Valley. Cardoza represents California 's 18th Congressional District, which includes Merced County and portions of San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Madera , and Fresno Counties.

Cardoza serves as Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture, which will play a leading role in the formation of the 2007 Farm Bill. The subcommittee is critical to Central Valley farmers because it has jurisdiction over the crops that constitute the lion's share of Central Valley agricultural production. Cardoza also serves on the Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry and the Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy and Research.

In 2007, Cardoza joined the prestigious House Rules Committee, which serves as the gateway for all major legislation considered on the House floor. Having a seat at the table on this powerful committee gives the Congressman a strong platform from which to advocate for the interests and values of California 's Central Valley on a wide range of important bills. The Congressman also serves on the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, which determines committee assignments and guides policy priorities.

Cardoza's centrist philosophy is highlighted in his role as a leading member of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of 44 moderate to conservative House Democrats who are committed to fiscal responsibility and accountability for taxpayer dollars.

Since taking office in 2003, Cardoza has demonstrated a commitment to reaching across the partisan divide to find common ground between Democrats and Republicans. He has a strong record on national security, veterans' issues, and defending Social Security. Cardoza has worked tirelessly to support legislation that helps Central Valley farmers and has secured millions in funding for vital infrastructure projects in the 18th district.

Representative Cardoza Speaking to Rotary Club.Cardoza has been a strong and consistent advocate for reducing our nation's dangerous dependence on foreign oil. He strongly supports investing in alternative and renewable energy sources. Cardoza, who has installed solar panels on his family residence in Atwater, recently introduced a bill that would extend and increase tax credits for solar installation on residential and commercial properties. In 2006, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) named him “Solar Champion of the Year.”

Cardoza, who has two adopted children, has been a strong voice on behalf of adoption and foster children. In April of 2005, he introduced the “Military Adoption Act,” which makes it easier for military service members to adopt children by allowing them to take paid leave. The bill was signed into law by President Bush in December 2005.

Prior to serving in Congress, Cardoza spent six years in the California State Assembly, where he chaired the powerful Rules Committee and helped forge the Moderate Democratic Caucus. A broad group of organizations honored Cardoza as Legislator of the Year for his efforts to cut taxes, help family farms, and promote education and children's safety.

Congressman Cardoza speaking to veterans.Cardoza's interest in public service began in college when he interned on Capitol Hill during the summer of 1979. The first in his family to graduate from college, Cardoza went on to run a successful small business. His belief that government should do more to help small businesses and foster economic growth inspired him to serve a term on the Atwater City Council beginning in 1984.

In 1994, Cardoza was appointed to the Merced City Council. His council-related duties on the Merced County Regional Solid Waste Board, the Merced County Association of Governments, and the Atwater Redevelopment Agency provided invaluable experience on dealing with a wide range of important local and county issues.

Cardoza has been relentless in his efforts to establish a University of California campus in the Central Valley. UC Merced, once a dream of Valley educators, students, and parents opened its campus doors in the fall of 2005.

The Congressman has never forgotten his agricultural roots. His grandparents emigrated from Portugal in the early 20th century to farm the rich Merced County soil. The Cardoza family raised dairy cattle and grew sweet potatoes, almonds, watermelons, wheat, oats, and alfalfa.

Representative Cardoza married Dr. Kathleen McLoughlin. They have three children, Joey, Brittany Mari, and Elaina.