Ed Pastor, the first Hispanic elected to the Federal Congress by Arizona, died of a heart attack at the age of 75, is remembered today as a ” pioneer “who represented his state in Washington for 24 years and inspired a whole new generation of Latino leaders.
The Democrat, who represented Arizona for 12 terms, from 1991 until his retirement in 2015, suffered a cardiac arrest last night.
His daughter Laura, a city councilor in the city of Phoenix, said his father will be remembered for his dedication to his family and his legacy of service to the community.
“He served the people of Arizona for more than 40 years as a member of Congress and as a member of the Board of Supervisors of Maricopa County, he was the first Mexican-American congressman elected in Arizona,” Laura stressed in a press release.
His successor in the federal Congress, Rubén Gallego, regretted the loss of his party mate, who stressed that he was a “pioneer who dedicated his life to fighting for working families.”
The representative assured that Pastor, born in the Arizonian town of Claypool in June 1943, represented his state with “distinction” during 12 terms, during which he earned a “reputation as a tireless defender of the people” of the region.
After hearing the news, the governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, ordered that the flags in the official buildings flow at half mast in honor of the deceased congressman and his political career.
“Arizona today suffers the loss of a pioneer and a true public servant,” Ducey said in a message through his Twitter account.
The Democrat made history on September 24, 1991 when he was elected during a special election to represent the Second Arizona District, which at that time encompassed part of the border with Mexico, becoming the first Hispanic congressman for the state of Arizona.
After the 2000 Census, the congressional districts were modified and Pastor went on to represent the Seventh District between 2003 and 2015.
The congressman always easily won the contests to the federal Congress, receiving more than 60% of the votes.
Pastor, the oldest of three siblings, was the first member of his family to complete higher education (Arizona State University) and was a Chemistry teacher at North Phoenix High School.
After obtaining his degree as a lawyer, he became assistant to the then governor of Arizona, Raúl H. Castro (1975-1977), the first Latino to hold this position.
In 1976, Pastor was elected to the Board of Supervisors of Maricopa County, where he was re-elected for three terms, before being nominated to the federal Congress.
Pastor was one of the most influential and recognized Democratic politicians in Arizona, a traditionally Republican conservative state, and during his service in the federal Congress he was considered the most liberal member of the state delegation.
In this sense, Gallego indicated that Pastor dedicated his career to protect the civil rights of all Americans and make the so-called “American dream” accessible to all, including the most vulnerable in society.
“His legacy will endure in the transportation projects he advocated, the legislation he drafted, the working families he helped and a generation that he inspired,” he said.
Pastor, who was president of the Hispanic Caucus of Congress, was also one of the founding members of the Progressive Caucus and supported organizations such as Planned Parenthood, the largest network of sexual and reproductive health clinics in the US, and opposed the War of Iraq.
In 2007, she voted in favor of prohibiting labor discrimination based on sexual orientation and in 2006 she opposed the definition of marriage only as an act between a man and a woman.
He also supported a comprehensive immigration reform and in 2010 he promoted the law known as the Dream Act, legislation that sought to grant immigration status to undocumented youth who arrived as children in the United States, but ultimately was not approved.
In February 2014, Pastor, survived by his wife, Verma, two daughters, Yvonne and Laura, and four grandchildren, announced that he would not seek re-election and announced his retirement, which occurred in January of the following year.