By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News
NAUGATUCK — Democrat Naugatuck Board of Education Chairman Jeffrey Litke and former Naugatuck Republican Town Committee Chairman Seth Bronko will battle for the open 70th House District seat in the Nov. 8 election.
State Rep. Rosa Rebimbas, R-Naugatuck, served for six terms but opted not to run because she is seeking the 21st District probate judge seat, which serves Naugatuck, Beacon Falls, Prospect and Middlebury. She was first elected to the House in a 2009 special election.
Litke, 44, a Naugatuck native who is married to Drew Cosenza, said he is running because he believes that there is great potential for development opportunities in the borough.
“We need to ensure that students receive good education and that we get funding for it,” Litke said. “We need to work on crime and make our residents feel safe and secure in their homes, where they live. I want to be a part of that process.”
Litke is currently a Human Resources generalist for the Town of Stratford. He has been on the school board for the last five years, including three years as chair. He said he’s been able to work on the school board bipartisanly with every member since being elected.
Bronko, 33, who is also a Naugatuck native and is married to Caitlin and has a three year-old son, said he’s running to make sure that his son has an affordable place to grow up that is safe and has good schools to attend.
“I see the direction the state is currently going where we’re living with a crushing tax burden, our neighborhoods are increasingly unsafe and our schools, their performance has continued to go downhill and as my son gets older now and is approaching school age, these things become much more of a reality and I can’t sit on the sidelines any longer,” Bronko said.
Bronko is currently a RE/MAX Rise real estate agent and co-owner of Bronko Construction LLC. He said he stepped down from the RTC chairman position several months ago to focus on the race and the borough.
Litke has served on the Naugatuck Zoning Commission for two years and on the Inland Wetlands Commission for one year before being elected to the school board.
Litke said education is one of his passions and wants to make sure that children are getting the resources and experiences they need to succeed.
“I want to make sure that I advocate funding for them for different programs, for school safety issues,” Litke said.
Officials need to also alleviate the crime issue by looking at how some offenders are treated and find better ways handle some of those issues as well as dealing with the rising cost issue, Litke added.
“We definitely need to look at ways that we can go ahead and reduce some of our taxes that cause some things to be little bit higher,” Litke said.
Bronko has served on the Naugatuck Finance Board, Naugatuck Valley Health District, Naugatuck Education Foundation and Naugatuck Youth Services. He currently serves at the Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation.
Bronko’s two primary issues are affordability and keeping communities safe while enhancing public safety.
Bronko said he wants to increase the property credit that someone can claim on real estate and motor vehicles from $300 to $500 for all families that file their state income taxes as well as reducing the sales tax and eliminating the meals tax.
Enhancing public safety is another issue Bronko feels strongly about.
“Making our communities safer, making sure law enforcement are given the proper resources to do the jobs they need,” Bronko said. “I think we need to revisit the Police Accountability Bill and roll that bill back and reinstate the protections that our law enforcement used to have before they passed that bill.”
Litke has a bachelor’s degree from University of Connecticut in political science and a master’s degree from University of New Haven in public administration.
Litke believes he’s the most qualified individual for the seat and has always been accessible.
“I understand both sides of issues. I’m not afraid to get up there and fight and do what’s right and speak my mind and fight for Naugatuck,” Litke said. “At the end of the day, I’m about representing Naugatuck and representing the 70th district.”
Bronko has a bachelor’s degree in Business Management with a minor in Communications from the University of Connecticut.
Bronko said he should be elected because he ultimately wants what’s best for the borough and has the experience between his professional and volunteer life as well as his community service.
“I am truly optimistic about the direction of Naugatuck. We have a lot of opportunity. I know taxes are high,” Bronko said. “I know it’s tough but I truly do believe that our best days are ahead and as we can develop our downtown and this kind of goes hand-in-hand with the affordability but economic development is kind of a spur of that and one of my main goals and passions”