EDWARD FLANAGAN

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FLANAGAN--Edward.

Edward Flanagan was born on December 18, 1950 and died on November 3, 2017. He served as Vermont State Auditor from 1993 to 2001 and as Vermont State Senator from 2005 to 2011. He was the first openly gay statewide elected lawmaker. Edward was born in Washington, DC the son of Bernard Flanagan and Margaret Sawyer Flanagan. He was a 1973 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in history and political science and played defensive tackle on the UOP football team. Edward earned a JD from Harvard Law School in 1976. After a stint in Washington, DC as a policy analyst, entered private practice in New York and then in Vermont from where his parents originated. His professional style was known as quick, tenacious, with great instincts, which he brought to the political area. Though he ran unsuccessfully for Vermont Attorney General, Edward continued to pursue his political interest and elected Vermont Auditor of Accounts from 1993 through 2001. In that role he energized a sleepy, backwater office into an aggressive government watchdog. In 1995, Edward publicly declared he was gay. Though politically risky at that time, he became the first openly gay Statewide elected official in the United States when being reelected the following year. During his career as Vermont State Auditor, as a candidate for various offices, and later as State Senator, Edward was a progressive within the Democratic Party. He focused on the environment, health care, fighting government waste, and civil rights. Vermonters gratefully associated him with the traits of his bull dog mascot. He was the Democratic nominee in the US Senate contest in 2002 where he was the first openly gay person to be nominated by a major party for the United States Senate. He lost that race to the incumbent Republican US Senator. Edward later made a successful run for the Vermont State Senate representing the Chittenden County Senate District (for three terms, 2005 to 2011). In November 2005, he was in a car accident when driving home in bad weather from a session at the state house. Though he recovered after three weeks in a coma, and many years of medical treatment and rehabilitation, he was left with a traumatic brain injury. Edward attacked this as he had done so many challenges he faced in life, and set his goal on returning to politics. He returned to the state house in 2006 where he was triumphantly greeted by his fellow politicians and the statewide press. In the area of health care, he pushed successfully for a state funded health care ombudsman to protect health care consumers, advocated insurance coverage for all hospital costs, and sought to prohibit insurance companies from denying medical coverage to people infected with the AIDS virus. Edward Flanagan's first partner of 14 years, Richard White, died in 1990. Edward is survived by a network of great friends and his life partner of 22 years, Isaac Lustgarten. Pals for keeps, they lived in primarily Vermont and New York. Surviving siblings are Robert, Catherine, Gail and Margaret. Memorial services details to follow.

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Published in The New York Times on Nov. 12, 2017
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