Former State Lawmaker Dies

October 15, 2013

A former state lawmaker has died at the age of 88. Manuel ‘Lito’ Peña, who was known as the ‘Godfather of Senate Dems,’ died over the weekend of natural causes. Former state lawmaker Alfredo Gutierrez calls Peña a major force in transforming Arizona.

 “He was a rock,” Gutierrez said. “He was unmalleable and he would fight back. He was quite a character.”

Gutierrez says Peña was a partner with Cesar Chavez in the early years of organizing farm workers. And, he says Peña helped with the initial integration of Latinos into Arizona’s schools in the city of Tolleson.