GOP state senatorial candidate Chris Carrena awaits his opponent

Five Democrats primary to run for Marilyn Moore's open seat

Chris Carrena, the Republican candidate running for Connecticut's 22nd senatorial district seat, left, with his wife, Rosalie, and their daughter, Ava, 3, at a fundraiser at Vazzy's Osteria, 415 Main St. in Monroe, Tuesday.

MONROE, CT — Marilyn Moore’s retirement as senator of Connecticut’s 22nd senatorial district sparked a primary race between five fellow Democrats vying to run in her place this November.

Meanwhile, Chris Carrena, 31, a political newcomer from Trumbull, who runs his family’s business, Carrena Property Management and Realty in Bridgeport, has already locked up the Republican Party nomination.

On Tuesday evening, he held a fundraiser with supporters at Vazzy’s Osteria restaurant, 415 Main St. in Monroe.

“I think I always wanted to get involved,” Carrena said of governing. “I didn’t know how I’d make my entry.”

The 22nd District represents Bridgeport, Trumbull and Monroe. Carrena said he is campaigning on a platform to bring more businesses to Connecticut.

“Change starts from the bottom up, not the top down,” he said.

The candidate also wants to decrease taxes and make changes to housing policy, securing more rights for landlords.

Carrena grew up in Trumbull. He and his wife, Rosalie, were high school sweethearts, though she went to St. Joes and he went to Trumbull High School. Both graduated in 2011. The couple has a daughter, Ava, who is three-and-a-half years old.

Carrena won the Republican nomination at its convention at Trumbull Town Hall on May 14.

Bill Finch is a big name among Democrats vying for their party’s nomination. The former Bridgeport mayor had also served as senator of the 22nd District for seven years.

Finch faces Bridgeport City Councilman Scott Burns, former Bridgeport City Councilman Tyler Mack, Quinnipiac Professor Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox of Trumbull, and deputy commissioner of the state housing department, Shante Hanks.

The primary will be held on Aug. 13 with seven days of early voting, from Aug. 5 to 11, according to the Monroe Registrars of Voters Office.

‘A good heart’

Chris Carrena’s father, Luis, emigrated from Benin in Africa in 1985, when he was age 20, and he’s been involved in property management as a landlord, investing in a string of properties since 2002.

Chris said his family owns over 200 housing units and manages units for other properties, the majority in Bridgeport with some units in Stratford, Derby and Shelton.

Carrena earned his real estate license in 2013, his broker’s license in 2018 and condo association manager’s license in 2023. He is also a notary public.

Working in the real estate business has given him the opportunity to form relationships, while dealing with local government agencies, from building, zoning and health departments to fire departments.

“It makes me proud,” Luis Carrena said of his son running for state senate, “and I know he has such a good heart. He will look at helping everybody. Where we came from it takes a whole village. There’s a strong belief in working together.”

“Integrity is important,” Luis added. “Our name is everything to us. We will always do our best. Empowerment is important to us. We want to empower all people — to give back. I think that’s what’s driving Christopher. Africa and America are day and night. He’s very young, full of knowledge and good hearted.”

‘Old school values’

Chris Carrena, left, takes a photo with Monroe First Selectman Terry Rooney.

Monroe First Selectman Terry Rooney, a Republican, attended Chris Carrena’s fundraiser at Vazzy’s Osteria to show his support.

“I’ve known Chris for probably 10 years now,” Rooney said. “He’s a hard working guy. He comes from a good family with old school values. His father emigrated here from Africa with zero dollars and worked very hard to build a successful business and raised Chris to work hard for what he obtains.”

“I think Chris will serve our district well,” Rooney said. “We’ve had many conversations and we align on many beliefs for what we want the future of Connecticut and the Trumbull-Monroe area to be.”

State Rep. David Rutigliano, R-Trumbull, also attended the fundraiser to express his support for Carrena’s campaign.

“We are super excited to have Chris as a candidate,” Rutigliano said, while mentioning Carrena’s Trumbull roots. “We believe the next senator of the 22nd District should be from Trumbull or Monroe. Bridgeport already has a couple of senators and I think we’re under-represented in Hartford.”

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