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7:59 PM Tue, Dec. 11th

Ex-Rep. Ed Pastor, Arizona's 1st Hispanic congressman, dies

Former U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor, a Democrat, served 23 years in Congress. He was Arizona's first Hispanic congressman.  Pastor died after suffering a heart attack. He was 75. (U.S. Congress)

Former U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor, a Democrat, served 23 years in Congress. He was Arizona's first Hispanic congressman. Pastor died after suffering a heart attack. He was 75. (U.S. Congress)

PHOENIX — Former U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor, Arizona's first Hispanic congressman, has died after suffering a heart attack. He was 75.

Pastor, a Democrat, served 23 years in Congress. He was the longtime senior member of the state's U.S. House delegation before he decided in 2014 against running for re-election.

Pastor went to Congress after winning a 1991 special election for the seat vacated by fellow Democrat Morris K. Udall.

Ronnie Lopez, a longtime friend of Pastor and finance director of all of his campaigns, said Pastor had a heart attack Tuesday night while dining at a restaurant with his wife, Verma.

Laura Pastor, a Phoenix City Council member and one of the former congressman's two daughters, said he "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."

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, called Pastor "an Arizona trailblazer and true public servant" and ordered that flags lowered statewide to half-staff to recognize "the long-lasting impact he will leave on Arizona."

U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego, a Democrat who now represents the congressional district, said 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."

Pastor represented a heavily Democratic district centered on Phoenix. He previously served on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

Current Phoenix Mayor Thelda Williams and former Mayor Greg Stanton said Pastor, who served on the House Appropriations Committee, championed transportation projects such as funding for Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport improvements and construction of the metro area's light rail system.

"I adored Ed Pastor, and Phoenix is a better city because of him," Williams said.

Besides his wife and daughter Laura Pastor, other survivors include a second daughter, Yvonne, and a sister, Eleanor.

Laura Pastor said arrangements for a celebration of her father's life are pending.

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