Ed Pas­tor’s char­ac­ter forged in small min­ing town of Clay­pool

The Arizona Republic - - Valley & state - Daniel Gon­za­lez Fred Bar­cón Child­hood friend of Ed Pas­tor The Ari­zona Repub­lic The Ari­zona Repub­lic

“To you, he’s Con­gress­man Ed Pas­tor. To me, he’s Ed Pas­tor, who hap­pens to be a con­gress­man.”

For­mer U.S. Rep. Ed Pas­tor grew up in Clay­pool, a ham­let 90 min­utes east of Phoenix where most of the res­i­dents were Mex­i­can-Amer­i­cans who worked in the lo­cal cop­per mines, be­longed to unions and lived amid ex­treme dis­crim­i­na­tion.

Pas­tor, who died sud­denly at the age of 75 af­ter suf­fer­ing a heart at­tack Nov. 27, is be­ing re­mem­bered as Ari­zona’s first Latino mem­ber of Congress.

But it was grow­ing up in a Mex­i­canAmer­i­can min­ing com­mu­nity that forged Pas­tor’s char­ac­ter as a trail­blaz­ing Latino leader, life­long friends say.

A Demo­crat, Pas­tor served 23 years in the House be­fore de­cid­ing not to run for re-elec­tion in 2014. He was known as a quiet but ef­fec­tive work­horse in bring­ing fed­eral re­sources to Ari­zona to fund lo­cal projects, large and small — among them, the restora­tion of the old Bul­lion Plaza School, built in 1923 in Mi­ami, Ari­zona, as a seg­re­gated school for Mex­i­can-Amer­i­can stu­dents.

Pas­tor’s fa­ther, En­rique worked at the In­spi­ra­tion mine.

Fred Bar­cón grew up with Ed Pas­tor. He has a vivid mem­ory of the for­mer con­gress­man’s fa­ther, nick­named Kikes, work­ing at the mine.

Pas­tor’s fa­ther worked as a fur­nace ten­der at the smelter, which emit­ted huge plumes of sul­fur smoke.

“I re­mem­ber Kikes, Pas­tor’s dad, stand­ing in the smoke, thick sul­fur smoke. All you could see was his sil­hou­ette, smok­ing a cig­a­rette,” Bar­cón said.

Pas­tor’s fa­ther died in 2003. It was a ter­ri­ble death, Bar­cón said. “His lungs were all eaten up from the sul­fur smoke.”

It was not a their chil­dren.

“Our par­ents would come home and tell us, ‘You are not go­ing to work in that mine. You are go­ing to do some­thing. You are go­ing to go to col­lege,’ ” Bar­cón said.

Pas­tor, the old­est of three, was the first per­son in his fam­ily to at­tend col­lege. He earned a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in chem­istry from Ari­zona State Univer­sity Pas­tor, life min­ers wanted for and taught at North High School. He later earned a law de­gree from ASU.

Pas­tor was a straight-A stu­dent and a star ath­lete, Bar­cón re­called.

Back then, the In­spi­ra­tion Con­sol­i­dated Cop­per Co., where Pas­tor’s fa­ther worked, of­fered a $1,000 col­lege schol­ar­ship to top stu­dents, enough to cover the cost of col­lege, Bar­con said.

But Pas­tor had no chance of re­ceiv­ing the schol­ar­ship, de­spite his aca­demic achieve­ments.

“Back in our day, mi­nori­ties were not awarded schol­ar­ships,” Bar­cón said. The In­spi­ra­tion mine schol­ar­ship “only went to the white kids, the An­g­los.”

Bar­cón re­mem­bers that as a kid, Pas­tor de­liv­ered news­pa­pers to earn money, which helped him earn a schol­ar­ship from to pay for col­lege.

At ASU, Pas­tor lived at Ir­ish Hall B. “That was prob­a­bly the low­est-in­come dorm on cam­pus,” Bar­cón said. “The rea­son I know that is I had a room right un­der Ed.”

Bar­cón re­mem­bers see­ing Pas­tor work­ing at the cafe­te­ria “wash­ing dishes, clean­ing ta­bles, help­ing the cooks” to earn ex­tra money de­spite his schol­ar­ship.

Pas­tor’s fa­ther was an of­fi­cer in Mine-Mill Lo­cal 587, the lo­cal branch of the Mine-Mill and Smelters Work­ers Union that rep­re­sented Mex­i­can-Amer­i­can min­ers, said Al­fredo Gu­tier­rez, 73.

Gu­tier­rez was a life­long friend of Pas­tor’s and grew up in neigh­bor­ing Mi­ami, Ari­zona, which lo­cals pro­nounce, MeAM-ah.

In the 1950s and 1960s, there was a lot of dis­crim­i­na­tion against Mex­i­canAmer­i­cans, Gu­tier­rez said.

Mex­i­can-Amer­i­can min­ers were paid less than An­glo min­ers and their chil­dren at­tended seg­re­gated schools, he said.

It was Mine-Mill Lo­cal 587 that ad­vo­cated not only for em­ployee rights on be­half of Mex­i­can-Amer­i­can min­ers but also for rights on be­half of the en­tire Mex­i­can-Amer­i­can com­mu­nity, Gu­tier­rez said.

“The im­por­tant thing is that it was an at­mos­phere where peo­ple or­ga­nized and fought back,” Gu­tier­rez said. “The sta­tus quo was not ac­cept­able. There was al­ways an ef­fort to make things bet­ter. To or­ga­nize the com­mu­nity, whether it was about in­te­grat­ing the schools or paving the canyons. It was al­ways a con­stant or­ga­ni­za­tion, and that is the at­mos­phere we were brought up in and that is what I think con­trib­uted to Ed and his brother Robert.”

Still, few peo­ple who grew up with Ed Pas­tor en­vi­sioned that one day he would run for Congress and serve 23 years in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Gu­tier­rez said.

If any­thing, it was his younger brother, Robert, who peo­ple thought would run for of­fice one day.

Robert “was the ac­tivist,” Gu­tier­rez said. “He was the one who was very charis­matic.”

Then Robert Pas­tor was killed in a car ac­ci­dent in the early 1970s. Robert’s death in­spired Ed Pas­tor to run for the Mari­copa County Board of Su­per­vi­sors, Gu­tier­rez said. He was elected to the board in 1976.

“I think Robert’s death had a huge im­pact on Ed and frankly on all of us,” Gu­tier­rez re­called.

He was re­fer­ring to a group of Ari­zona Latino lead­ers who came from Mi­amiGlobe, twin min­ing com­mu­ni­ties — among them Gu­tier­rez, who served for 14 years in the Ari­zona Leg­is­la­ture, pow­er­house political con­sul­tant Ron­nie Lopez, and Pas­tor.

“They jok­ingly called us the Mi­ami Mafia,” said Bar­cón, 74, founder and owner of Bar­cón Corp., a gen­eral-con­tract­ing com­pany in Globe.

Af­ter earn­ing a law de­gree, Pas­tor went to work for then-Ari­zona Gov. Raul Cas­tro en­forc­ing work­ers’ rights un­der the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Dur­ing the 1970s, Pas­tor be­came deputy direc­tor of the Guadalupe Or­ga­ni­za­tion Inc. and was in­spired by the Chi­cano move­ment and its charis­matic leader, Ce­sar Chavez, ac­cord­ing to Roll Call.

Pas­tor be­lieved Mex­i­can-Amer­i­cans needed more de­ci­sive political lead­er­ship, Roll Call said, and vol­un­teered for the cam­paigns of Mex­i­can-Amer­i­can can­di­dates in Ari­zona.

On Oct. 3, 1991, Pas­tor was sworn into Congress af­ter win­ning a spe­cial elec­tion for the seat that had been va­cated by long­time Rep. Mor­ris Udall, D-Ariz., who stepped down be­cause of de­clin­ing health.

As the first His­panic from Ari­zona to be elected to Congress, Pas­tor was a role model for Lati­nos.

“He opened a lot of doors for a lot of as­pir­ing elected of­fi­cials,” Ed­mundo Hi­dalgo, for­mer pres­i­dent of the Latino so­cial-ser­vices agency Chi­canos Por La Causa, told in 2014. Pas­tor helped CPLC grow into the third-largest Latino so­cial-ser­vices agency in the na­tion by help­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion tap into fed­eral fund­ing, Hi­dalgo said.

When he de­cided not to run for re­elec­tion, Pas­tor was the most se­nior mem­ber of Ari­zona’s House del­e­ga­tion and served on the pow­er­ful House Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee.

But he never for­got his roots, Bar­cón said. As con­gress­man, Pas­tor se­cured fed­eral fund­ing to help re­hab the Bul­lion Plaza School, which served as a seg­re­gated school for Mex­i­can-Amer­i­can stu­dents until the 1950s.

The for­mer school is now a cul­tural cen­ter and mu­seum. Pas­tor was sched­uled to at­tend a re­union there this Satur­day, Bar­cón said.

Bar­cón re­called that Pas­tor threw a gi­ant party in down­town Phoenix ev­ery De­cem­ber. While at­tend­ing the party one year in the late 1990s, Bar­cón re­called telling Pas­tor he could not stay for din­ner be­cause he was go­ing deer hunt­ing early the next morn­ing.

Pas­tor wanted him to stay but didn’t make a fuss. An aide, how­ever, chas­tised Bar­cón on the way out.

“How can you say no to the con­gress­man?” Bar­cón re­called the aide say­ing.

“Easy,” Bar­cón told him. “To you, he’s Con­gress­man Ed Pas­tor. To me, he’s Ed Pas­tor, who hap­pens to be a con­gress­man.”

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