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Congresswoman Louise Slaughter dies at 88

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 March 2018 at 11:32 am

Her district used to include a section of Orleans County

Louise Slaughter

Louise Slaughter, the senior member of the New York Congressional delegation, died this morning at age 88.

Slaughter represented part of Orleans County in Congress from 2002 to 2012 after redistricting pitted her against John LaFalce. Slaughter lived in Fairport and used to have a Rochester-focused district while LaFalce of Tonawanda had a district near Buffalo that stretched into Orleans.

The redistricting plan from Republicans was intended to eliminate one of the powerful Democrats. LaFalce chose to retire rather than run against a long-time friend. The new gerrymandered district included the three Orleans towns of Yates, Carlton and Kendall.

During her decade representing part of Orleans County in Congress, Slaughter secured federal funding for the Lyndonville sewer plant, Albion water plant and other local water districts. She also pushed for federal funds for dredging the Oak Orchard Harbor and worked with local farmers to help them bring in farmworkers through the H2A program, allowing them to work short-term on fruit and vegetable farms before going back to their home countries.

“I am very saddened,” Jeanne Crane, chairwoman of the Orleans County Democratic Party, said about Slaughter’s death. “She was a very kind person. She really did a lot for Orleans County when she was in Congress.”

The 28th Congressional District was redrawn in an “earmuff district” to include both Louise Slaughter and John LaFalce, who were long-time members of Congress who were Democrats. LaFalce opted to retire rather than run against Slaughter.

Crane said Slaughter was very hospitable to Crane during a visit to the nation’s capital and showed her around DC.

Crane was most impressed with Slaughter’s willingness to speak out on issues and work behind the scenes on legislation.

“She was very tough,” Crane said. “She took on a lot of major topics and stuck to them and fought for it.”

Slaughter fell last week at her home in Washington, DC. She suffered a concussion and had been hospitalized at George Washington University Hospital.

Slaughter’s chief of staff Liam Fitzsimmons released a statement Friday morning on his boss’s death.

“To have met Louise Slaughter is to have known a force of nature,” he said. “She was a relentless advocate for Western New York whose visionary leadership brought infrastructure upgrades, technology and research investments, and two federal manufacturing institutes to Rochester that will transform the local economy for generations to come.”

Slaughter was first elected to Congress in 1987.

“As the first chairwoman of the House Rules Committee, Louise blazed a path that many women continue to follow,” Fitzsimmons said. “It is difficult to find a segment of society that Louise didn’t help shape over the course of more than 30 years in Congress, from health care to genetic nondiscrimination to historic ethics reforms.”

Bob Duffy, the former Rochester mayor and lieutenant governor, is now CEO of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce. He released this statement about Slaughter:

“Louise was a friend and a colleague for years and I am shocked by her passing. Words cannot express how saddened I am by her death. She was such a tireless advocate and great public servant for our community and region throughout her tenure in Congress. Whether people agreed or disagreed with her positions, I can assure you that they were established with the utmost integrity because Louise always took stands that she firmly believed in. To me, that is the essence of great public service. I express my deepest condolences to her family.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued this statement about the congresswoman:

“Louise Slaughter was a champion for New York who had a larger than life presence in Rochester area politics. For more than 30 years, she served in the U.S. House of Representatives with unmatched charm, sharp wit and an insatiable passion to improve the lives of everyone in her community.

“As Dean of our Congressional Delegation, she made all New Yorkers proud. With her training as a scientist, Louise fought for fairness and led the way on the major issues of our time, from environmental preservation to women’s rights to attracting 21st century jobs in cutting edge industries like photonics.

“She was trailblazer, a partner and friend ever since we worked together for my father more than four decades ago. She will be missed greatly by all who knew her, but she will not be forgotten anytime soon by all those she served.”

Ryan orders flags lowered for ‘a giant in the people’s House’

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) issued the following statement this morning after learning of the passing of Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York:

“This is just jarring. My first thoughts go out to Louise’s family, friends, and her staff. Louise was a giant in the people’s House, the first woman ever to chair the Rules Committee. That said, Louise did not need a gavel to make a dent in history. She was unrelenting in fighting for her ideas and the people back home in Western New York. But really, the thing that I keep coming back to is how she was tough, but unfailingly gracious. She was simply great.

“In memory of Louise, I have ordered that the flags above the Capitol be lowered to half-staff. The coming days of mourning will bring many tributes to this wonderful public servant. For now, let us pray that God brings comfort to those closest to Louise.”

Gillibrand: ‘Louise will be remembered as one of the great, pioneering women in our country’s history’

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand released the following statement on the passing of Congresswoman Louise Slaughter:

“I am deeply saddened that my dear friend and colleague Louise Slaughter has passed away. As a long-serving leader of the House Rules Committee, she tirelessly fought for Democratic principles and gave a voice to those who needed it. Louise devoted her life to serving the Rochester community, she never wavered in her fierce defense of our shared values as Americans, and she was one of the kindest and most compassionate colleagues I’ve ever had.

“She was a brilliant microbiologist who worked tirelessly to make our food supply safer, she was a moral leader who passed the Stock Act to prevent corruption in Congress, and she was a proud New Yorker who fought to bring high-speed rail to our state. Louise will be remembered as one of the great, pioneering women in our country’s history, and it was an honor to serve alongside her in Congress. I offer my heartfelt prayers and condolences to her entire family.”

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