Candidates have entered the race to fill the state Senate seat left vacant when Sen. Terry Gerratana, of New Britain, accepted an appointment as an advisor in the state Office of Health Strategy.
Gennaro Bizzarro, a New Britain Republican and attorney, and state Rep. Rick Lopes, D-New Britain, are both seeking nominations when their parties hold conventions in the coming days. The 6th Senate District includes Berlin.
“As a first generation American whose parents emigrated from Italy, I was taught the values of hard work, honesty, determination, and the responsibility that we all have to give back to our communities and serve others,” Bizzarro said in a statement. “These are the values that fuel my desire to become your next State senator and fight for the residents of the 6th District in Hartford.”
Lopes, who has also filed paperwork with the State Elections Enforcement Commission, couldn’t be reached for comment.
Gov. Ned Lamont announced that special elections will be held Feb. 26 to determine the replacements for five lawmakers, including Gerratana, who resigned to accept executive branch appointments.
Lopes and Bizzarro have faced off before. Lopes edged Bizzarro, 2,925 votes to 2,489, to keep his 24th House District seat in 2014.
Lopes, a state representative since 2012, worked as a legislative aide to former Sen. Don DeFronzo from 2003 to 2011. Prior to holding elected office, Lopes worked as a community organizer for a neighborhood revitalization group in New Britain, as a housing coordinator for the Middletown Chapter of the American Red Cross and as a vocational counselor at the Chrysalis Center in Hartford.
He currently serves on the legislature’s Finance, Revenue, and Bonding; Energy and Technology; and Transportation committees. He also runs a property management company.
Bizzarro said he wants to focus on opioid addiction, inequalities in education and municipal aid.
“We cannot afford to continue down the road we have been on for the past eight years, and that means we cannot keep sending the same people to Hartford and expect a different result,” he said. “We desperately need an infusion of common sense at the Capitol, and that is exactly what I intend to bring.”
When reached Thursday for comment on the race, Gary Brochu, chair of the Berlin Democratic Town Committee, said his party plans to choose its candidate at the convention.
Anne Reilly, chair of the Berlin Republican Committee, said she endorses Bizzarro.
“I believe Gennaro has an understanding of how the state operates, and he has the the education, experience, and energy necessary to help our state and our governor tackle the critical issues our state of Connecticut faces today,” she said.
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