Wilmington Mourns the Passing of Antonio Resto, the First Hispanic Elected as a Member of City Council

Posted on  10/08/2013 11:22 am

Mr. Resto represented Wilmington's 5th District from 1973 to 1977.

Wilmington City Council President Theo Gregory, on behalf of all Members of Council, today mourned the passing of Antonio Resto, the first Hispanic citizen to be elected to City Council. Council Member Resto, who died Sunday night after a lengthy illness, was elected to Council in 1973 and served the City’s 5th District for one term. Mr. Resto was active in the establishment of the Latin American Community Center and was an advocate on Council for youth services, recreation programs and after-school activities for children. Council Member Resto raised his family on North Franklin Street. He also served for ten years as a Constable with the Delaware Justice of the Peace Court, retiring in 2008.

“I join with all my current council colleagues and all of those former Council members who served the people from these seats in expressing condolences to Antonio Resto’s five surviving children and to his extended family and friends,” said Council President Gregory. “Mr. Resto established a Wilmington milestone when he was elected as the first Hispanic member of Council. It was an election which led to greater participation in government by people who at times did not feel as though they had a place at the political or government table. It is important that we recognize Mr. Resto’s achievements.”

Wilmington City Council today has two Hispanic members serving simultaneously which is another first for the City. Maria D. Cabrera is an At-Large Member and is the first female Hispanic elected to Council, while Mr. Resto’s former 5th District seat is occupied by Council Member Samuel Prado who is serving his third term. They both expressed their thoughts today at the passing of Council Member Resto.

“I am saddened by the loss of one of the City’s Hispanic pioneers but grateful to have been a friend and to have been mentored by the late Council Member,” said Council Member Cabrera. “Tony Resto was like family to me, treating me more like a daughter than a friend. Tony would always have some words of advice. He encouraged me to be the voice of those who were suffering in silence. He saw firsthand the many injustices that Hispanics faced in our city. Tony urged me and others to keep fighting for future generations. As he did when he served on Council, Tony continued to advocate for an improved education system. He was an also an entrepreneur and a business leader and although he opened the local political door to other Hispanics, he was proud that others carried on the tradition of community service, not just for Hispanics, but for all people.”

Council Member Samuel Prado said Antonio Resto’s election was a defining moment for the City’s growing Puerto Rican community in Wilmington at the time of his election. Prado said his father, Jesus Prado, who served two terms on City Council, considered Resto a mentor. “My father and Antonio Resto gave Hispanics a greater voice in City affairs. Mr. Resto’s election meant that just like other ethnic groups before them, Hispanics were even more a part of the fabric of our City. With that elevation of status, of course, came a new responsibility to serve the entire community with distinction. I am happy that Mr. Resto lived long enough to see two Hispanics serving on City Council, two Hispanics serving in the general assembly (Representative Joe Miro and Senator Ernie Lopez) and two Hispanics elected to at-large positions in New Castle County (Sheriff Trinidad Navarro) and statewide (Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart). My father said Tony Resto never wanted to see his trendsetting time in public office wasted by those who came after him. I know we have done our best to uphold Antonio Resto’s legacy.”