Ed Pastor, Arizona’s first Hispanic congressman, dies at 75

Nov 28, 2018, 8:00 AM | Updated: 11:01 am
(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)...
(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)
(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

PHOENIX — Former U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor died on Tuesday, his daughter and Phoenix Councilwoman Laura Pastor announced in a statement. He was 75.

“Congressman Pastor will be remembered for his commitment to his family, and his legacy of service to the community that he loved, the state of Arizona and the nation,” part of the statement read.

Pastor served in U.S. Congress for more than 20 years, representing Arizona’s 2nd and 7th congressional districts between 1991 and 2015.

He was the first Mexican-American from Arizona elected to Congress. Pastor was elected to former U.S. Rep. Mo Udall’s seat in a special election.

Pastor also served as a member of the Board of Supervisors for Maricopa County.

Pastor’s wife, Verma, thanked the first responders from Phoenix Fire Station 9 and the doctors and nurses at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center for caring for Pastor “in the final moments of his life.

“At this time, the Pastor family asks for privacy as they mourn the loss of their husband, father, brother, grandfather, uncle and leader,” part of the statement read.

The statement did not disclose Pastor’s cause of death, but Ronnie Lopez, a longtime friend of Pastor and finance director of all of his campaigns, said he had a heart attack while dining at a restaurant with his wife.

Several Arizona lawmakers offered their condolences on Twitter on Wednesday.

“Congressman Pastor dedicated his career to protecting the civil rights of every American and making the American Dream accessible to everyone, including the most vulnerable in our society,” U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego, who currently serves in Pastor’s old seat, said in a statement.

“His legacy will live on in the transportation projects he championed, the legislation he authored, the working families he helped, and a generation he inspired.”

U.S. Rep. David Schweikert said Pastor was a necessary aspect for lawmakers who needed bipartisanship.

“When we needed something bipartisan done, he was the first person we went to because he saw what was good for Arizona and what was good for the Hispanic community,” he said.

Arizona state Sen. Martin Quezada, who worked on Pastor’s campaign, called the late congressman an icon for the Latino community in Arizona.

“He was an iconic figure. He was very genuine, he was a very funny guy but you could tell that he knew exactly what he was doing,” Quezada told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

“He was very confident in everything he did and it showed in the way that he interacted with people and they way they interacted with them.”

Phoenix Mayor Thelda Williams said in a statement that “Phoenix is a better city” because of Pastor.

“For years, he was our greatest champion in Congress, delivering the help we needed to make light rail a reality, make Sky Harbor one of the best airports in the nation and so much more,” Williams said.

“His legacy is all around us and also lives on through his two daughters, who followed in his footsteps by leading lives of public service.”

Phoenix city Councilman Sal DiCiccio said in a statement that Pastor’s “accomplishments will carry forward far beyond his lifetime.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jeremy Foster and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Ed Pastor, Arizona’s first Hispanic congressman, dies at 75