By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News
NAUGATUCK — Probate Judge Peter Mariano and state Sen. Rosa C. Rebimbas, R-Naugatuck, are vying for the 21st Probate District seat in the Nov. 8 election.
The district encompasses Naugatuck, Prospect, Beacon Falls and Middlebury. Probate courts oversee decedents’ estates and trusts, and handle a wide range of issues affecting children, the elderly, and people with intellectual and psychiatric disabilities.
Mariano, 62, is nearing the end of his fifth four-year term and has run unopposed for 16 years. Originally a Republican, he is running as a Democrat for this election. Democratic delegates earlier this year from all four towns voted 12-5 to endorse Mariano as their candidate_
“I’m running on my 20 years of being a probate judge and I am very proud to have served the citizens,” said Mariano, a borough native with a daughter. “I have an outstanding staff and they’re all quite experienced, and unfortunately we don’t have a union and a new judge could replace all of them. I think that’s very important.”
Rebimbas, 47, also a borough native, isn’t running for re-election to the legislature. She has represented the 70th House District since winning a special election in 2009 to fill a vacancy.
Married with two daughters, Rebimbas has been a practicing attorney for almost 20 years.
Her legislative experience includes being deputy leader of the House Republicans, a ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, chairwoman of the Bills Screening Committee, and co-chairwoman of the Waterbury Rail Line and Bipartisan Women’s Caucus.
Rebimbas said she’s running for probate judge because she believes she would be the best choice and the court needs positive changes.
“It’s about time the probate court returns to being a community court where people know that it exists, people are aware the services it provides, and people see it as a place of resource and not a place to fear,” Rebimbas said.
She said one of her goals is to create a mentorship or internship through the court by reaching out to schools. She also would like more information available for residents regarding the services.
Mariano said the position requires a judicial temperament, being a good listener, being empathetic and staying calm under all circumstances. He said voters should choose him because his opponent has minimal experience in the probate field.
“She’s handled approximately one case per year in my court during her 19 years,” Mariano said. “I’ve handled over 20,000 cases. There’s a stark contrast of experience between the candidates.”
Rebimbas said voters should elect her because she’s the best qualified person with professional experience and legal training.
“People should know the only reason I’m running for this position is for the residents of the 21st District – to make sure they have the best services out of that probate court possible,” Rebimbas said. “I have dedicated my life to public service.”