Politics aside: State lawmakers mourn loss of colleague, friend and public servant

HARTFORD — A somber day at the Capitol Complex as lawmakers mourned the sudden and tragic loss of a colleague and friend.

Lawmakers bowed their heads in moment of silence Friday. Governor Ned Lamont ordered the state flag to half staff. Music was the medicine. A performance from the cast of Rent at the Bushnell was almost postponed. But it brought a legislative family together. “Shed a few tears. Laugh,” remarked State Rep. Jeff Currey, a friend of Rep. Santiago.

Santiago was a man of many nicknames. State Rep. Ezequiel Santiago died suddenly Thursday night of a heart attack at the age of 45.

His friend Tony Barr scrolled through emails and pictures of the Bridgeport warrior. “Today. For the people and the city of Bridgeport and everyone who knew him, we lost a good human being,” said Barr.

Back at the Capitol complex, the D’s and R’s were stripped away. It was a day where humanity trumped politics. State Rep. Geraldo Reyes said, “When I speak about a close not family I’m talking about both sides of the aisle.”

As the Chair of the Banking Committee, Rep. Santiago authored the 1st piece of legislation Gov. Lamont signed into law. It was during the Government shutdown when a public private partnership helped furloughed federal workers fill the gap between paychecks with 0% interest loans. “I have to tell you, he was so excited. He went to the bill signing with the Governor,” said Reyes.

Ezequiel lead with quiet confidence. He was a family man. “About as kind hearted and giving of an individual as you are going to find,” said Reyes.

Sen. Mae Flexer was a friend of Rep. Santiago. They both came into the legislature in the same year. “He worked hard to make sure the voice of Bridgeport was heard here, and he was just a fun guy to be around. I know he loved his children and this is just an incredibly shocking and sad day for all of us here. We’ve lost a tremendous public servant,” said Flexer.

Gov. Ned Lamont issues a statement that read, in part, “He was a devoted father, fighter for his community, and a dedicated public servant.”

Public service was in Rep. Santiago’s bloood. His Dad held his seat as a state Rep. The state flag will stay at half staff until his final rest.

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