Former State Rep. Aldo Vagnozzi
- Community mourns the loss of a political giant
by Todd A. Heywood
Originally printed 3/26/2009 (Issue 1713 - Between The Lines News)
Former State Rep. Aldo Vagnozzi (D-Farmington Hills) has died of pancreatic cancer. He was 83.
The Italian immigrant served not only in the state House, but as
mayor of Farmington Hills, as well as on the council there and on the
school board. He was a former labor union newspaper reporter as well
who served time in the U.S. military in World War II, assisting in the
relocation of Italian prisoners of war.
He was also a lion when it came to pursuing LGBT issues in the state house, leaders from gay rights groups said.
"On LBGT issues, he has always been a leader always up front in the
battle for equality in the legislature," said Sean Kosofsky, former
director of policy for the Triangle Foundation. "He didn't need to be
lobbied on our issues. He just got it. For an older Italian American
elected official you might think he might need some briefing on these
issues. But he didn't. He is a social justice guy to his core."
Kosofsky said Vagnozzi's death was a "colossal loss" for the people of Michigan.
He also noted the former state representative had taken a
traditional Republican district and made it Democratic then used that
position to push a progressive agenda, something Kosofsky said "takes
Michigan Equality's former executive director, Derek Smiertka, first
came in contact with Vagnozzi when he ran the campaign of a Republican
opponent for the state house.
"You just respected him from the moment he opened his mouth to the moment he walked out the door," Smiertka said.
He said Vagnozzi was a "hero."
"He was one of the more honorable people in Lansing and the state," Smiertka added.
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