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Social media responds to the death of former Congressman Ed Pastor

By: - November 28, 2018 11:07 am

Former U.S. Congressman Ed Pastor speaking at a “New Voices Forum” hosted by the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in April 2017. Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Ed Pastor, Arizona’s first Latino congressman, died of a heart attack last night at the age of 75.

Pastor, a Democrat who represented central Phoenix and the southwest Valley for 23 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, was known for working diligently behind the scenes to secure funding for Arizona projects, oftentimes at the request of Republican members of the Arizona delegation who feared political reprisals from their constituents.

When he retired from Congress in 2014, Pastor was the most senior member of the Arizona delegation and served on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, something that allowed him to secure funding for local priorities. Among those priorities were federal funding for improvements at Sky Harbor International Airport and Maricopa County’s light rail system.

Former U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon, a Mesa Republican, told the Arizona Republic today that Pastor made Arizona a better place because he fought to bring spending to the state, something the state’s two U.S. Senators – Jon Kyl and John McCain – wouldn’t do.

“He was the go-to guy on basically everything because our two senators would never ever fight for earmarks,” Salmon said. “So Ed was the go-to guy whenever there was any kind of major Arizona project.”
“He was the consummate fighter for Arizona. If it wasn’t for him, light rail would have never happened. It would have never happened. Ed went to the mat. Before any ground was broken, Ed secured all the seed money. It was over $100 million.”

Before being elected to Congress in a 1991 special election to replace Morris Udall, who resigned because of declining health, Pastor had been on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors since 1977.

Arizonans and others who knew Pastor mourned his death and shared stories about their interactions with him on Twitter and Facebook.

For many Latino Arizonans, Pastor was an icon, a mentor and an inspiration.

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Jim Small
Jim Small

Jim Small is a native Arizonan and has covered state government, policy and politics since 2004, with a focus on investigative and in-depth policy reporting, first as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times, then as editor of the paper and its prestigious sister publications, the Yellow Sheet Report and Arizona Legislative Report. Under his guidance, the Capitol Times won numerous state, regional and national awards for its accountability journalism and probing investigations into state government operations.