By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News
NAUGATUCK– Republican delegates from multiple towns, including the borough, voted 15-6 on Wednesday, May 18 to endorse state Rep. Rosa C. Rebimbas, R-Naugatuck, as the GOP candidate for Probate District 21 judge in the November election.
The 21st District encompasses Naugatuck, Prospect, Beacon Falls and Middlebury. Rebimbas got the nod over 20-year incumbent Probate Judge Peter Mariano at the GOP nominating convention at Naugatuck Event Center. All five Middlebury delegates voted for Mariano while all 10 Naugatuck delegates voted for Rebimbas. Mariano plans to be in the GOP primary for the seat Aug. 9.
Rebimbas, who isn’t running for re-election to the legislature, has been a practicing attorney for 19 years, and she has represented the 70th House District since winning a special election in 2009 to fill a vacancy created after then-state Rep. Kevin M. DelGobbo resigned to accept an appointment as state utility regulator.
Rebimbas thanked all the delegates and her family, as well as Mariano for his years of service in her celebratory speech.
“My goal is nothing less than to run the probate court with dignity, integrity and fairness for all those who come before me, to provide fair and just decisions when necessary, and to make sure the court resumes to become a community court that is inviting to the public, staff and most importantly a resource of information for all those who need it most,” Rebimbas said.
“The probate court will be a place where people will know that you will receive personal attention no matter who you are.”
Shortly after the convention adjourned, Rebimbas said it would be an honor to serve a larger geographic area in a legal capacity.
Former borough burgess and former Republican Town Committee Chairwoman Catherine M. Ernsky nominated Rebimbas.
“I have full faith and confidence that as Naugatuck’s RTC endorsed candidate, she will bring back integrity and transparency to the probate court, something the office has been without,” Ernsky said.
Burgess Meghan E. Smith said it was her honor to nominate Rebimbas as well.
“From the moment I decided to embark on my own political journey, I knew Rosa’s footsteps were the ones I would try to follow in. She has absolutely paved the way for women in leadership,” Smith said.
Mariano, 61, a Republican from the borough, is nearing the end of his fifth four-year term as probate judge. He was sentenced May 9 to one year in prison, but the sentence was reduced to four days for three drunken-driving charges and driving with a suspended license after he pleaded guilty to two counts of operating under the influence as a first offender and second-degree reckless endangerment.
The state decided to substitute what originally was a DUI charge for reckless endangerment, also a misdemeanor.
The state declined to prosecute two cases of Mariano operating a vehicle under a suspended license as part of the agreement. Mariano was not under the suspension for a DUI arrest for one of the charges.
Mariano said he wasn’t surprised by the outcome and is planning to be in the primary by first bringing a certificate of eligibility to Hartford this past week.
“It’s up to the people,” Mariano said after the convention. “The people decide who is going to be their next probate judge.”
Prospect Mayor Robert J. Chatfield was the only Prospect delegate who voted for Mariano.
“About four, five months ago, he came and asked me for my support,” Chatfield said. “I shook his hand, said I would support him and I’m a man of my word.”
Beacon Falls wasn’t able to send its four delegates to the convention due to caucus issues last month, Town Clerk Leonard C. Greene said.
“Our bylaws say we must do all nominations by a caucus,” Greene said. “We didn’t get a notice in the paper (Republican-American) ahead of time for a caucus. It wasn’t posted properly so we couldn’t have the meeting.”