STONINGTON — Shaun Mastroianni, who announced his candidacy Thursday night for the Republican House nomination in the 43rd district, is winning high praise from party veterans for his energy and dedication to civic affairs.
Mastroianni, 37, made his announcement before a standing-room-only crowd at Mia’s Cafe in Pawcatuck.
“It’s so great to see such a large crowd of support because that’s what we’re going to need come Nov. 6,” he told the audience. “We are going to take back the 43rd district state representative seat.”
Rep. Diana Urban, a Democrat from North Stonington, has held the seat since 2001 and has announced that she will not seek re-election.
Mastroianni is a senior executive director for Benchmark Senior Living, based in Waltham, Mass., and oversees Crescent Point at Niantic, a senior assisted-living community, as well as facilities in East Haven and Trumbull. He has been with Benchmark for more than four years and has worked in senior assisted living for more than 10 years.
His husband, Antonio Mastroianni, 50, co-owns Antonio Hair Design in Mystic.
Raised in Canterbury, Conn., Mastroianni has lived in Stonington for about five years, first in Mystic and now in the Borough of Stonington, where he serves as a burgess and commissioner of public buildings.
Mastroianni also chairs the Borough Charter Revision Commission and is a member of the Stonington Planning and Zoning Commission. He serves as the town’s blight citation hearing officer and is a member of the Stonington Beautification Committee and the Stonington Garden Club.
He has a Bachelor of Science degree in business from Eastern State Connecticut University and an MBA from University of New Haven. He is also a licensed nursing home administrator.
If elected, Mastroianni said he would work to clean up the state budget.
“We really have to review the budget in Hartford and not spend money that we don’t have, that’s going to be No. 1 for everybody,” he said. “If you own a company and you don’t have a balanced budget, you’re not in business.”
He also emphasized Stonington’s strong sense of community, which he said could be used as a model for improving how the state operates.
“I want to take what we’ve done in Stonington and do that in Hartford. We’ve promoted business, we used to be called ‘zonington,’ now we’re not; it’s really about listening to people and working with people and it’s about community,” he said. “It’s such a strong community here; if we could make Connecticut that strong maybe we could keep jobs in Connecticut and have young people stay in Connecticut.”
Bryan Bentz, who chairs the Stonington Town Republican Committee, said the committee interviewed several candidates and chose Mastroianni because of his high level of energy and community involvement.
“He’s got the energy for this, he has the drive for it; I think he’d be excellent for this job,” Bentz said. “It’s kind of hard to find someone for this sort of position because it’s almost a part-time job; I’ve talked to him about how he’s going to balance the workload and he’s got a good plan for that. I think he’s got the energy and knows the community well.”
Stonington Selectman John Prue said Mastroianni had the ability to tackle important issues in a fair manner.
“When I was on Planning and Zoning he came on as an alternate and I found him to be very thoughtful and he was very good with policy,” Prue said. “He was always prepared and not afraid to tackle a divisive issue head-on; he was firm but fair and got to the nub of the issues without hesitating, which is something we absolutely need.”
Bob Carlson, North Stonington selectman, said Mastroianni’s willingness to serve the town in a variety of positions showed an enthusiasm that would translate well to Hartford.
“He’s been on a lot of different boards here so I think he’s an aggressive go-getter,” Carlson said. “Sometimes younger candidates have a lot of energy that’s not the ‘same-old same-old’ so I think he’s got the energy we need to shake things up a little bit around here.”
Mastroianni’s energy reminded First Selectman Rob Simmons of his campaign for the same seat 27 years ago.
“In May of 1991, I declared myself a candidate for state rep for the 43rd district and was endorsed by the Republican party with little chance of winning, but the Democrats divided their team and I won and served for 10 years,” he said. “I am so excited to see a young man like Shaun Mastroianni throwing his hat in the ring — he reminds me of myself — young and idealistic, eager to serve, and this is just what the State of Connecticut needs, smart, young, dedicated candidates for public office.”