Herman Badillo, a Bronx politician who was the first person born in Puerto Rico to become a U.S. congressman, has died in New York. He was 85.
Badillo died Wednesday of complications of congestive heart disease at a hospital in Manhattan, according to George Arzt, a political consultant and longtime friend.
"He was a true pioneer of the city. He was the first major Latino to be elected," Arzt said.
Puerto Rico has been a U.S. territory for 115 years, and its people have been U.S. citizens since 1917. However, residents are barred from voting in U.S. presidential elections and have no representation in the
"I represent the original immigrant," Badillo said. "Everybody says that their parents and grandparents came here and couldn't speak English and they were poor. And in my case it wasn't my parents and grandparents. It was me."
He served in the House of Representatives from 1971 to 1977, when he resigned to become a deputy mayor during New York City Mayor Edward Koch's first term.
Badillo was born on Aug. 21, 1929, in Caguas, Puerto Rico. His parents died in a 1934 tuberculosis epidemic, and he came to New York with an aunt in 1941. He attended public schools and the City College of New York, and earned a law degree at Brooklyn Law School.
He started work as a city official in 1962, and his first elected position was Bronx borough president from 1965 to 1969.
Badillo was a delegate to the
In 2001, he waged a bitter primary election campaign against
Badillo lived in Manhattan and is survived by his wife, Gail, and his son by a previous marriage, David.