Some are calling the announcement from Representative Florindo ‘Flo’ Fabrizio today one they didn’t expect. The 73-year-old deciding after decades in politics, that this is his final year.
Fabrizio has represented the second legislative district for 16 years, calling the experience both humbling and exhilarating. The representative did not want to talk on camera to the media today, but says in a statement that having the confidence of the voters has been the fulfillment of a lifetime.
Before he was elected to serve the 2nd District, Flo spent more than 20 years in county government. His colleague, 1st District Representative Pat Harkins says he tried to convince Fabrizio to run again but respects his decision to retire. “He is the guy with the seniority, he’s the guy who can mediate between the democrats and the republicans… when you put a face with things that are done in Erie, it’s Flo Fabrizio”.
Today’s press release announcing his retirement makes no mention of the pancreatic cancer diagnosis that became public in April, and his colleagues say his illness is not what led to this decision. But, Harkins says, “he just said he did some soul searching and looked at things from a family perspective for things that are good for him and I applaud him 100 percent for that”.
Fabrizio says that after retirement, he plans on staying active in the community and continue his civic engagement to the people of the area. Harkins doesn’t doubt that in the least, saying, “he’s got the drive to him, he’s sharp as a tack… we met on a number of issues last week in Erie and he was at the front of both those meetings and had the solutions in hand”.
Those who have worked alongside Fabrizio for the past several terms say it’s going to be hard to replace the man many called, ‘Uncle Flo,’ or, ‘The Godfather’. Bill Cole, Erie’s Democratic Party Chair, says today’s announcement was a surprise and anyone interested in running needs to start working on a campaign ASAP. “We weren’t sure what direction he was going to go; whether he was going to continue on as a legislator or whether or not he was going to retire. Now that we know he is going to retire, we are going to have to make some changes and talk to some people about having to run for his seat”.
Cole says no interested parties have yet come forward to announce their run for the seat. Everyone was waiting out of respect for Fabrizio. “He’s a very well-seasoned individual. He has a lot of insight, he is very knowledgeable about politics, he can give us a lot of direction, we can’t just let him retire and not ask him for anything else”.