Rep. Ezequiel Santiago, D-Bridgeport, who began the 2019 session as the new co-chair of the Banks Committee after a decade in the General Assembly, died Friday morning after being stricken by an apparent heart attack, legislators said.
Santiago, 45, was the father of three daughters and the son of a former lawmaker, Americo Santiago.
House Majority Leader Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, said he learned of Santiago’s death in a 6 a.m. phone call from Rep. Chris Rosario, a Democrat and member of the tight-knit Bridgeport delegation.
“He was so proud to represent the city of Bridgeport, and he was so excited about his new role as the chair of Banks,” Ritter said.
Rosario, who posted a tribute on Twitter to his friend, was too distraught to talk when reached by phone.
“The Bridgeport crew takes such pride in the city, and they are such good friends,” Ritter said.
Santiago was a Bridgeport councilman before joining the General Assembly. He won an open seat in 2008, succeeding Democrat Felipe Reinoso.
Gov. Ned Lamont, calling Santiago an “outstanding advocate” in a statement Friday, ordered the state flag to be lowered to half-staff in Santiago’s memory.
“We were terribly saddened to learn this morning of the sudden passing of Representative Ezequiel Santiago, a man who truly loved public service and his hometown of Bridgeport,” Lamont said. “The State of Connecticut has lost an outstanding advocate, and our hearts are broken today as we mourn his loss. He was a devoted father, fighter for his community, and a dedicated public servant. Our prayers are with his family, friends, and constituents at this difficult time.”