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Tri-State notables mourn Kennedy's passing

August 26, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

Del. Donoghue recalls his years with Kennedy

TRI-STATE -- The death of U.S. Sen. Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy comes as health care legislation, something for which he long had worked, is at the forefront of the political scene.

Kennedy died Tuesday night after a 15-month struggle with brain cancer.

Former Hagerstown City Councilwoman Alesia D. Parson-McBean called Kennedy's death "a very sad day."

She said his absence from the Senate could mean one less vote for health care reform.

"We can't ignore the fact that some people are needlessly ill," Parson-McBean said. "There has to be something done."

Parson-McBean said she hopes the person who is appointed to Kennedy's seat will carry his torch.

Washington County Democratic Central Committee Chairwoman Patricia R. Heck called Kennedy's death "a terrible loss."

"He (was) a rare person," she said. "He devoted his life to his country. We need more politicians to be cut from that cloth."

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Heck said she didn't know whether Kennedy's death would hurt President Obama's efforts to pass health care reform.

"It's hard to say," she said. "We'll have to wait for the shouting to die down."

Heck said Kennedy showed courage by voting on important bills in the Senate despite being gravely ill.

"It does seem to be that the era of major statesmen is about over," she said.

"He was the patriarch of the Kennedy family," Maryland Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, said Wednesday from his Hagerstown office.

Munson said he did not expect Kennedy's death to have a great impact on health care legislation.

"He has been out of the issue for most of a year," Munson said, adding that was a shame because health care was an issue that was important to Kennedy for most of his career.

"I think it's a very sad day for our country," said Chambersburg Mayor Pete Lagiovane, a Democrat.

Kennedy "fought long and hard" for health care reform, he said.

"It might make people aware of how long we've been trying to accomplish this," Lagiovane said, saying he expects Kennedy's death will energize the Democrats for the health care cause.

Franklin County Commissioners Chairman Bob Thomas, a Republican, said Kennedy's passing "marks the end of a generation that started nationally with JFK and RFK."

"These brothers clearly influenced many baby boomers to become interested in government and politics," Thomas said. "I was never a fan of Ted Kennedy's politics, but he truly was a dedicated public servant and a powerful speaker. His passion for many causes was obvious. I shall never forget his heart-touching speech at Bobby's funeral."

U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., said with Kennedy's death, he has "lost someone who has been a mentor, a friend and one of my heroes."

Kennedy's skills "were key to the passage of legislation that has changed our nation forever, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Americans with Disabilities Act, Title IX, education reform and increases in the minimum wage," Cardin said in a press release.

U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said, "The American people and the United States Senate have lost a touchstone. The cause of justice has lost its bravest and boldest champion. And I have lost a very dear friend."

Rockefeller said in a statement that Kennedy for 46 years was "a legislative lion who gave voice to the voiceless -- fighting for working families, civil rights, women's rights, health care for all, and transforming the lives of children, seniors, and Americans with disabilities."

"Senator Kennedy made historic contributions on civil rights, health care, education, the Judiciary, labor law, immigration and virtually all facets of life in America," said U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa. "Working with him on the big issues of our era was a real privilege."

Staff writers Marlo Barnhart and Jennifer Fitch contributed to this story.

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