Replacements Line Up For Staples’ Seat

Thomas MacMillan File Photo(Updated) Immediately after State Rep. Cam Staples announced he’s leaving the legislature to seek higher office, two local politicians threw their hats in the ring.

East Rock Alderman Roland Lemar said he expects to announce in the next few weeks that he’s seeking the Democratic nomination for the 96th Assembly District seat, which covers parts of New Haven and Hamden. The seat opened up Wednesday after 18 years when Staples announced he’s running for attorney general.

“I’m pulling together my team,” Lemar said. He said he plans to form a candidate committee (as opposed to an “exploratory” committee) and seek public financing. Until then, he’ll be “talking to friends, family and supporters” about the campaign.

Lemar, who’s 33, works as a communications consultant. He has served for three years as Ward 9 alderman, the same office Staples used as a launching pad to get to the state Capitol. Staples served as Ward 9 alderman for three two-year terms.

Competition is already shaping up from the Hamden side of the district.

Mike D’Agostino, a 38-year-old lawyer who chairs Hamden’s school board, threw his hat in the ring Wednesday afternoon.

D’Agostino said even before the seat opened up Wednesday, supporters were encouraging him to run for the Democratic nomination for Staples’ seat. He said he is “considering forming an exploratory committee and expect[s] to have a formal announcement soon.”

A former Hamden police commissioner, D’Agostino served as New Haven State Sen. Martin Looney’s campaign treasurer for his last several campaigns. He currently works at the Hartford-based law firm of Bingham McCutchen. He’s a member of the Democratic State Central Committee.

A third potential candidate, Wooster Square Alderman Mike Smart, said he has not made a decision yet as to whether he’ll join the race.

Running for that position is “definitely something I would be interested in,” Smart said.

Debra Hauser, a former Democratic co-chair in East Rock’s Ward 10, said she is “interested in exploring the possibility” of running for the seat. “I am going to meet with some of my advisers and family and think it over,” she said.

The Democratic nomination will be decided by a special two-town party convention, slated to take place in early May. At that convention, 10 delegates from New Haven and six from Hamden will vote on whom the party will endorse going into the primary.

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posted by: Paul Wessel on January 20, 2010  5:34pm

Roland Lemar will be an awesome State Rep for Hamden and New Haven.  He’s got passion and smarts, works hard, and can pull people together to get things done.  We need him - and more folks like him - in Hartford.

posted by: Greg on January 20, 2010  9:12pm

As an East Rock resident, I’ll be sad to see Roland move on from here, but I know that he’ll do great work at the next level.

posted by: streever on January 20, 2010  9:39pm

Lemar has my support, and that of many, many others. There is no doubt in my mind that such a skilled legislator would be a considerable asset for both New Haven & Hamden.

I like and respect the other candidates but can’t put my finger on specific legislation they’ve sponsored or written. Lemar has both the experience & the energy to do this job.

posted by: Lynn on January 20, 2010  11:37pm

Go Roland Go!  It’ll be hard for a New Havener to win with so many people in the race, but I know that you can do it! Good luck

posted by: Alan Felder on January 21, 2010  8:12am

Hopefully New Haven is getting rid of a rubber stamp.

posted by: cedarhillresident on January 21, 2010  8:13am

Roland will be getting my vote. He has always been there for everyone, even if you are not in his ward. He goes above and beyond. He is accessible and cares about the people and issues of this city.

posted by: Erin Sturgis-Pascale on January 21, 2010  10:16am

Roland has my support!  Roland works hard and works smart.  He has a great record and has proven to be a savvy and independent legislator.  Roland is not your typical ‘big ambition’ politician, but someone who has great ideas for positive change for our communities AND the skill to get them implemented.

posted by: Moti Sandman on January 21, 2010  10:18am

I believe that Roland will be an amazing State Rep. he has what it takes to get the job done and will be a great addition to the New Haven/Hamden delegation.

Moti Sandman

posted by: Bruce on January 21, 2010  10:44am

Wow, that’s going to be a tough race.

posted by: abg on January 21, 2010  12:55pm

The divided nature of this district makes it awkward for both candidates and voters. The New Haven candidates aren’t well-known in Hamden and tend not to know much about Hamden’s local issues, and vice versa.  Another symptom of the “169 fiefdoms” disease.

For what it’s worth I think Kath Schomaker from Hamden’s Legislative Council should run.

posted by: sandra on January 21, 2010  2:34pm

We cannont do any better than Roland…although we will be very sad to have him leave the Board of Alders.

posted by: Alan Felder on January 22, 2010  9:33am

Alderman Roland Lemar D-9, Are you a student of the controversial book “The Bell Curve, Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life”

What an intellectual racial insensitive comment “Higher quality individual”, you made in the (New Haven Register are you suggesting that you are superior and others inferior, and you are thinking about running for State Rep, what will be your platform “Segregation”. ”

posted by: angelo on January 22, 2010  1:48pm

Alan Felder - we know you’ll support someone who meets your anti-immigrant, right wing agenda, but aren’t you trying a little too hard to discredit Roland Lemar?  It’s pretty obvious that there are people of all races who will not run for the board of alders because there are too many seats for one person to get anything done and it’s a remarkably inefficient body.  If the board were more manageable, more people would consider it worth the effort. It is you, not Lemar, who interprets “higher quality” as meaning race.  Talk about a (right) knee-jerk reaction!

posted by: what on January 22, 2010  8:31pm


Isn’t it a little arrogant for Lemar, you and others to consider yourselves “higher quality”? What does that comment by Lemar say about how he feels about his aldermanic colleagues?

posted by: City Hall Watch on January 22, 2010  10:14pm

One who can’t balance a city budget shouldn’t be allowed to play with larger numbers. Before anybody including Lemar gets anybody’s vote, I hope you all ask the tough questions and get real answers and not a bunch of happy talk. We already have a CT delegation that does well bringing home money but can’t count to save their souls and can’t balance a budget and tell the truth about it. It’s time to vote for people of substance who are honest, truthful, trustworthy and real. This state hasn’t created any jobs in more than a decade and its finances are in deep trouble. We need people in Hartford who are going to fix it and quit pointing fingers and playing games. That’s for school children.

posted by: robn on January 24, 2010  10:25am


Isn’t it a contradiction for you to judge Roland Lemar as bad while denying the existence of “higher quality individuals”?

Just askin.