NORTH HAVEN — Planning and Zoning Commission member Theresa Ranciato Viele plans to challenge state Rep. Dave Yaccarino for his seat this fall.
Yaccarino, a Republican also from North Haven, represents the 87th General Assembly District. He won re-election in 2016 against Democratic challenger Steve Gifford and in 2014 against Democrat Alden Mead. He ran unopposed in 2012 after winning the seat for the first time against Democrat David Fontana in 2010.
Ranciato Viele, a Democrat, has 16 years of experience in town government. She’s a former vice chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals, former chairman of the Blight Commission, and serves as a moderator at town meetings.
“I know how to work across the aisle,” she said Tuesday. “I understand the concerns of residents after serving them for so long.”
Yaccarino said Wednesday he’s looking forward to the campaign.
"It's good to have open and fair elections as part of our democratic process," he said, adding that unlike elected officials, his campaign manager is of the other party. "My goal always in public office is to do the most good for the most people," he said.
Ranciato Viele, 56, is a native of the Montowese area. She’s a graduate of the University of Colorado, Boulder and earned a master’s degree in social work and public policy from the University of Connecticut.
She owns Girltower, a zoning and wireless consulting company, and co-owns Techmate-Blue Lotus, a disaster preparedness and recovery firm.
Most recently, she assisted with Hurricane Irma recovery in southwest Florida. She also worked with CT Rises and the Red Cross after Hurricane Sandy, putting together grants for long-term recovery.
Ranciato Viele said it would be good for North Haven to elect its first woman to state office.
“The state population is 51 percent female, while it’s 27 percent female in the legislature,” she said.
Yaccarino responded by saying that many women Republicans hold leadership positions within the legislature. Yaccarino’s caucus, for example, is led by House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby.
Ranciato Viele wants to work on taxes and how money is distributed, from addressing state cuts to education and planning for future senior housing.
“I have concerns about what North Haven is getting from the state and how the government is working overall,” she said. “In our town and our commissions, we all work, Democrats and Republicans, to get good clean business in North Haven, but we need more help from our state representatives.”