Bridgeport state Representative dies

March 15, 2019

BRIDGEPORT — State Rep. Ezequiel Santiago, who recently became chairman of the city’s all-Democrat legislative delegation, has died.

Friend and colleague state Rep. Chris Rosario said Santiago, 45, passed away from a heart attack.

“I felt they took the floor from underneath me,” Rosario said after learning the news Friday morning. “I talk to Zeke two or three times a day. I’m heartbroken.”

Mayor Joe Ganim called Santiago “a dear man and friend who will be missed by all who knew him. All of us in Bridgeport and across the state will feel the loss.”

Santiago has served in the General Assembly for a decade. He was one of the quieter representatives from Bridgeport and not one to often make news or seek a lot of publicity.

“I like to think of myself as quietly effective,” Santiago told Hearst Connecticut Media in November after he was chosen by Rosario and the rest of the Bridgeport delegation to chair that group for the current 2019 legislative session.

“One of my tasks is to make sure we work together as a team — that the Senators and House (members) are on the same page and know what each other is doing so we can support each other’s efforts,” Santiago said.

Santiago was the chairman of the Banking Committee and sat on the Appropriations and Commerce committees. He was a strong proponent of the effort to build a casino and entertainment center in Bridgeport.

Santiago also worked for the city in the Department of Public Facilities.

He was related to two well-known Democratic movers and shakers — father, Americo Santiago, and step-father Mitch Robles.

Council President Aidee Nieves said, “We’ve lost an advocate, a strong Latino leader for the city, who dedicated much of his life to public service. It is a profound loss to the city - a young man with such great talent and compassion for the residents.”

Nieves added that Santiago and Rosario made a good team at the Capitol in Hartford.

“He helped Chris a lot and to grow,” Nieves said, since Santiago was a legislator before Rosario. “But Chris helped him grow, reviving his passion, I think. He’s (Santiago) been there, but he felt more passionate. He had a team to fight with him.”