By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer
NAUGATUCK — For the first time in about a decade, there will be a contested race for the 70th House District seat.
Republican state Rep. Rosa Rebimbas in May received the GOP’s endorsement to run for her seventh term. She was first elected to represent the district, which covers part of Naugatuck, in a special election in 2009 and hadn’t faced an opponent for the seat since.
“It’s been my honor to serve the people of Naugatuck. It was where I grew up, work and chosen to raise my family,” said Rebimbas, a 44-year old Naugatuck native who lives with her husband, Ever Linares, and their two daughters.
Rebimbas, who graduated from Fairfield University and SJ Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah, is an attorney. She practices general law and has run her own firm, The Law Offices of Rosa C. Rebimbas, in Naugatuck for 13 years.
Rebimbas is a Republican whip in the General Assembly and serves on the legislature’s judiciary, legislative management and environment committees. She is also co-chairman to the bipartisan Women’s Caucus and Waterbury Line Caucus.
“It’s an honor to continue to fight on behalf of constituents to restore common sense back into Hartford. I’m certainly proud of my advocacy and bipartisan relationship in Hartford and Naugatuck,” Rebimbas said. “I intend to work collaboratively to get things done.”
For the first time since winning the special election in 2019, Rebimbas will face a challenger. The Naugatuck Democratic Town Committee has endorsed Stephen Samela to run for the seat.
“I was thankful to get the town committee and Lenny Caine, the chair, to endorse me. I just moved into town a few years ago,” Samela said. “I wanted to get involved and they embraced me.”
“It seems like there has been a disconnect with our region and state government,” Samela added. “I think I could work collaboratively across aisles.”
Samela, 33, was appointed to the Board of Finance as an alternate last December and filled a vacancy on the board this year.
Samela, who lives with his wife, Dayna, earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree from The Sage Colleges. He is a board certified behavior analyst and educational consultant for CT Behavioral Health. He’s worked as a paraprofessional, behavior technician, assistant behavior analyst and behavior analyst for ten years.
Samela said he’s an advocate for education and, more specifically, special education. His younger brother was diagnosed with autism in the early 1990s.
Samela said his primary motivation for running is to get the borough the help from the state he feels it hasn’t been receiving. He believes people need to put party aside and work together.
“I don’t want to run a partisan race,” Samela said. “I’m not here to further a Democratic agenda. I’m here to further a Naugatuck agenda.”