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Former Louisville Congressman Ron Mazzoli dies at 89

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Former Democratic Congressman Ron Mazzoli died today. He represented Kentucky’s 3rd Congressional District in the Louisville area from 1971 until his retirement in 1995.

He was 89 years old.

In 1986, Mazzoli authored one of the most recent revisions to the country’s immigration code, combining enforcement requirements with new paths to citizenship.

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, who currently holds Mazzoli’s previous seat in Congress, called him “one of the most thoughtful and honorable public servants ever to serve the people of Louisville and Kentucky.”

“As kind as he was caring, Ron’s love for others showed in all that he did—throughout his early life, during his time in elected office, and beyond. For 12 terms he provided the people of our city constituent service with a smile, always going out of his way to do all that he could for those he was so proud to represent,” Yarmuth wrote.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said that Mazzoli was one of his inspirations when deciding to first run for office.

“His selfless manner of working for the people, his indomitable work ethic and his devotion to his wife Helen were models for what we all aspire to be, not just as public servants, but as human beings,” Fischer wrote in a Tweet.

Kentucky House Minority Leader Joni Jenkins said Mazzoli was the first elected official she campaigned for.

“My appreciation for him has only grown since then, because he truly personified a time where those on the other side of the political aisle were seen as friendly rivals, not mortal enemies. As we mourn his passing, I pray his loved ones find solace in knowing his long legacy on behalf of Louisville and our country will endure,” Jenkins wrote in a statement.

The federal government named its office building in downtown Louisville after Mazzoli in 1996.

Mazzoli was the son of an Italian immigrant who came to the United States as an 11-year-old in 1914.

During an interview with the University of Louisville Archives in 2010, Mazzoli said he first decided to get into politics while he was sitting with friends and family around a basement card table beneath a bare incandescent light bulb. He always had a marble plaque in his office featuring a light bulb with the phrase “sic transit gloria mundi:” All the glories of the world will pass.

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Ryland is the state capitol reporter for Kentucky Public Radio. He's covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin. Always looking to put a face to big issues,Ryland'sreporting has taken him to drought-weary towns in West Texas and relocated communities in rural China. He's covered breaking news like the 2014 shooting at Fort Hood Army Base and the aftermath of the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.
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