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Ex-Assemblyman Firebaugh dies

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE‘Mame,’ ‘Hello, Dolly!’ composer Jerry Herman dies at 88160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WHITTIER – Former state Assemblyman Marco Firebaugh of Whittier, who was a candidate for the state senate seat held by Sen. Martha Escutia, died Tuesday. Firebaugh, 39, died at 7:15 a.m. at UCLA Medical Center from complications of the flu and liver failure, according to Ricardo Lara, his former chief of staff and campaign manager. He died with family and close friends at his side, former state Sen. Richard Polanco said. Polanco, who was at the hospital when Firebaugh died, praised the former assemblyman for his compassion and his commitment to improving life for working-class families. “So young and so talented,” Polanco said in a telephone interview. Firebaugh had medical problems in the past, missing the end of the 2003 legislative session while battling a serious liver problem. At the time, he said the unspecified ailment required “intensive treatment” but he expected to recover. Lara said the recent problems were a surprise. “He was on medication,” he said. “\ was fine. This was unexpected. It started with the flu and everything went wrong with that.” Born Oct. 13, 1966, in Tijuana, Mexico, Firebaugh was brought to the United States at age 1. He was raised by a single mother in El Monte, later taking the last name of his stepfather. Firebaugh credited his mother, Carmen Ramos Garcia, for his success, Lara said. “His mom always instilled the value of obtaining a college education. He always kept that to heart,” he said. “He understood the way to success is to pursue an education.” That’s why in the Assembly, Firebaugh fought to ensure that students had access to college regardless of their immigration status, Lara said. In 2002, Firebaugh authored a law that allowed some illegal immigrants to attend California universities while paying in-state fees. Firebaugh received a bachelor’s degree in political science from UC Berkeley, and then began working for Polanco as a staffer. Chris Robles of Montebello, who knew Firebaugh during the 1980s, said it was obvious then that he was going to be an “up and comer.” “He was a young Turk, but was actually pretty quiet,” Robles said. Firebaugh later received a law degree from UCLA, and served as the liaison in several Southeast Los Angeles communities for the law firm of Beltran and Leal. In 1998, he was elected to the Assembly, serving for six years until he was termed out. Jose Sigala, who was his district director for about five of those years, described Firebaugh as idealistic and compassionate. “He was the kind of person who would inspire you to get involved and to think down the road about what you as a person can do to change lives,” said Sigala, who now is district director for Assemblyman Rudy Bermudez, D-Norwalk. Bermudez and Assemblyman Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, also were in the race for state Senate with Firebaugh. Since Firebaugh’s death occurred before March 30, his name can be removed from the ballot, according to officials with the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder’s Office. Legislators all mourned Firebaugh’s death, many releasing statements. “Marco was a good friend and a younger brother to me,” said Sen. Escutia, D-Whittier. “Marco was a tireless advocate for our community, and while he will no doubt be missed by many, through his life’s work, his great legacy will continue to live on. He will be missed, but not forgotten.” The Associated Press contributed to this story. [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3022last_img

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