The loss of former U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor hits Latinos especially hard
Opinion: Former U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor, who died Tuesday at 75, was a quiet force that loomed larger than life for many Latinos.
Everyone knew Ed Pastor as a silent warrior. The man wasn’t flashy, and he never sought attention for himself – a rarity in a politician.
Pastor may have been a man of a few words, but he knew how to get the job done at Capitol Hill. And that inspired a whole generation of Latinos in Arizona.
“I was 15 when I first met Ed Pastor,” said Marco Lopez, who worked with him in D.C. as a page and later became the youngest mayor in Nogales history. “He encouraged me. He inspired me.”
Like Lopez, there are countless other Arizona Latinos who looked up to Pastor as the man who opened the door to politics and their community.
Latinos lost a quiet giant in Pastor
Pastor, who died at 75, wasn’t on national or local television. He wasn’t on the front pages. And yet, he was everything. He was the man who’d never fail Latinos. He was the man who would never turn his back on them, said lawyer and activist Danny Ortega.
That is one of Pastor’s biggest accomplishments – not the millions of federal money he brought to Arizona but the inspirational guide he was for so many.
Pastor, who served in Congress for 23 years, exasperated reporters like me. He never returned my calls, not even when seeking comment on projects he worked on. A few weeks ago, I sat next to him at a luncheon in Phoenix and reminded him of his penchant for not talking to reporters.
He smiled, touched my shoulder and told me he had no need to talk to me – or anyone else, really.
"It was never about me,'' he said. I smiled back and understood.
He wanted to talk about the bickering
Such humility in that statement. To my surprise, he insisted on chatting over coffee later because he had so much to say about the politics of today, especially the partisan bickering.
We scheduled a time to meet. Sadly, though, that chat never happened.
But many others are now carrying Pastor's torch, including Ruben Gallego, who replaced him in Congressional District 7.
"Congressman Pastor was a trailblazer who dedicated his life to fighting for working families," Gallego said. “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.
"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."
Descanse en paz, Ed Pastor.
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