Latino Candidates Mixture of Incumbents, Challengers

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By Linda Tishler Levinson
When voters go the polls this November to choose a new president and members of Congress, they also will vote for members of the state General Assembly. A number of Latino candidates are among those seeking seats in the Legislature.
“We’ve got a great group of candidates out there,” Pat O’Neil, communications director for the House Republicans, said of the GOP’s Latino candidates for the Legislature. He said they are bright and have a lot of enthusiasm. “They have a strong record to run on, and we’re very hopeful,” he said.
The state Democratic party did not returns messages for comment for this story, but in that past has said their candidates are working to make good policies for the Latino community. Jonathan Harris, executive director of the Connecticut Democratic party in Connecticut, said in a previous interview with CTLatinoNews.com, “We always are the party that has the interest of the Latino community in mind.”
The Latino candidates for the General Assembly include:
David Aldarondo
State Rep. David Aldarondo, of Waterbury , is seeking re-election in the 75th District. He is competing for the Democratic nomination against Victor Cuevas. (The primary is Aug. 14.) The Republican candidate for the seat is John F. Alseph Jr. Aldarondo was first elected to the state House in 2004. He is a member of the Aging; Executive and Legislative Nominations and Insurance and Real Estate committees.
Andres Ayala Jr.
State Rep. Andres Ayala Jr., of Bridgeport , is seeking the Democratic nomination in the 23rd Senate District Democratic primary. He is running against former state Sen. Ernest Newton II and incumbent state Sen. Edwin Gomes. Caz Mizera is the Republican candidate.
Ayala has served as state representative in the 1218th District since 2007. He is vice chairman of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee and serves on the Planning and Development and Public Health committees in the Legislature. Prior to that, he served on the Bridgeport City Council, including one term as council majority leader. He also was the first Latino to serve as city council president.
He works for the Bridgeport Board of Education as a social studies instructor.
Christina Ayala
Christina Ayala, of Bridgeport , is seeking the 128th District House seat. The Democrat is running against Republican Manuel Bataguas.  She is a site manager for a Action for Bridgeport Community Development
Juan Candelaria
State Rep. Juan Candelaria, of New Haven , is unopposed as he seeks re-election in the 95th District, a position he has held since 2002. He is currently Democratic majority whip in the state House and is vice chairman of the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee and a member of the Appropriations and Regulations Review Committee.
He was a New Haven alderman from 2001-2002 and a town committee ward chair from 1999-2005. He is a business development and sales manager at TD Bank North in Bridgeport . Candelaria has been involved with Latino Youth Development in New Haven and is a member of the Hill Development Corp., Regional Workforce and Centre San Jose.
The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV) awarded Candelaria a 100 percent rating for his support and advocacy of environmental initiatives in their 2012 Environmental Scorecard. The annual environmental scorecard grades state lawmakers based on how they vote on significant environmental legislation. This year the scorecard grades legislators’ votes on 15 bills that came up during the 2012 legislative session.
Victor Cuevas
Victor Cuevas, of Waterbury, is seeking the Democratic nomination for the 75th District House seat. He is involved in a primary race against incumbent state Rep. David Aldarondo. The Republican candidate for the seat is John F. Alseph Jr.
Dan Dauplaise
Democrat Dan Dauplaise faces an uphill battle in his 36th Senate District race against incumbent L. Scott Franz. No Democrat has been elected to the seat since 1930 and the Cuban-American would be the first Latino to hold the seat. He has experience working for the U.S. House of Representatives. Since 2010, Dauplaise has been working with the Greenwich Education Group as a consultant.
Damien DeJesus
Damien DeJesus, of Meriden , is seeking the state House seat in the 84th District. He is running as a member of the We the People Party. He is running against Democrat Hilda Santiago.
Minnie Gonzalez
State Rep. Minnie Gonzalez, of Hartford  is unopposed in seeking re-election in the 3rd District. The Democrat has served in the Legislature since 1997. She currently is Democratic majority whip at large. She is a member of the Appropriations, Judiciary and Public Safety Committees. Gonzalez worked as a Special Deputy Sheriff in the former West Hartford Superior Court for many years, as well as serving as Assistant Registrar of Voters, before running for State Representative
Malvi Garcia Lennon
Malvi Garcia Lennon, of Windsor, is seeking the 2nd District Seat in the state Senate. She is running against incumbent Democrat state Sen. Eric Coleman. She is the owner of Lennon Claims Service and is a member of the Windsor Republican Town Committee.
Jose Quiroga
Jose Quiroga, of Bridgeport, is seeking the 124th District House seat. The Republican is running against Democratic incumbent state Rep. Charles Clemons. He is a justice of the peace and works for the Secretary of the State’s office.
Hector Reveron
Hector Reveron, of East Hartford, is seeking the 3rd District state Senate seat. The Republican is running against incumbent Democrat Gary LeBeau. Reveron is a small business owner who holds three federally recognized licenses from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Communication Commission. He previously worked for Pratt & Whitney.
Jason Rojas
State Rep. Jason Rojas, of East Hartford, is seeking re-election in the 9th District. The Democrat is running against Republican Rudy Hrubala. He has served in the Legislature since 2009 and serves as vice chairman of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee, and the Planning and Developmnt and Education Committee. He is director of community relations at Trinity College.
Rojas is a former member of the East Hartford Town Council and Board of Education and the New England Association of Schools & Colleges Commission on Public Secondary Schools.
Robert Sanchez
State Rep. Robert Sanchez, of New Britain, a Democrat, is seeking re-electon in the 25th District. He is running against Republican Richard. H. Gadowski.
He has served in the General Assembly since 2011, when he won a special election. He also serves on the New Britain Board of Education. He also served on the city’s Housing Coaltion board. Sanchez is a case manager and fatherhood initiative coordinator with the Human Resources Agency of New Britain Inc.
He has served on Citizens for Action in New Britain, the Federal Housing Residents Council, the New Britain Democratic Town Committee and the New Britain Human Rights Commission.
Ezequiel Santiago
State Rep. Ezequial Santiago, of Bridgeport , is seeking re-election in the 130th District. The Democrat is running against Republican John Iannuzzi. He served on the Bridgeport City Council. He was first elected to the Legislature in 2009. He is a city stat analyst for the City of Bridgeport and is a member of the Puerto Rican Day Directors.
Hilda Santiago
Hilda Santiago, of Meriden , is seeking the state House seat in the 84th District. The Democrat is running against Damien DeJesus of the We the People Party. She has served on the Meriden City Council since 2005.
Edwin Vargas
Edwin Vargas, of Hartford, is seeking the 6th District House seat. The Democrat is running against Republican Michael Lupo. Vargas ran for the 1st District state Senate seat in 2008 and 2010. He is a teacher who previously worked for the Hartford Public Schools.