House bid:

NL school board mem­ber has run for House seat be­fore

The Day - - REGION - By GREG SMITH Day Staff Writer g.smith@theday.com

New Lon­don school board mem­ber Ja­son Catala is chal­leng­ing Rep. Chris Soto to be the 39th District Demo­cratic can­di­date.

New Lon­don — Board of Ed­u­ca­tion mem­ber Ja­son Catala is chal­leng­ing in­cum­bent state Rep. Chris Soto to be the Demo­cratic can­di­date for the 39th District seat.

Catala an­nounced his in­ten­tion to seek the Demo­crat en­dorse­ment and says he is pre­pared to pe­ti­tion for a pri­mary. His cam­paign doc­u­men­ta­tion was cer­ti­fied by state elec­tion of­fi­cials Mon­day.

Em­ployed as an aca­demic coach in the New Haven pub­lic school sys­tem, Catala has served seven terms on the school board and two terms on the City Coun­cil. Catala, as a Repub­li­can, made four pre­vi­ous un­suc­cess­ful runs at the 39th House District seat start­ing in the 1990s. He changed his party af­fil­i­a­tion from Repub­li­can to Demo­crat in 2013.

“I’m run­ning be­cause I think of all the dif­fer­ent taxes the state is im­pos­ing. With so much tax­ing, at some point you’re go­ing to over­bur­den the res­i­dents and its un­fair,” Catala said. “I’m also against the le­gal­iza­tion of mar­i­juana. I have a prob­lem with that as a par­ent, an ed­u­ca­tor and as a res­i­dent of the state of Con­necti­cut.”

Catala said he op­poses high­way tolls, has con­cerns about the state’s use of casino and lot­tery money and thinks nurs­ing homes need more mon­i­tor­ing. He said he is not against med­i­cal mar­i­juana.

A sin­gle fa­ther, Catala has an ed­u­ca­tional lead­er­ship de­gree from Sa­cred Heart Univer­sity and a master’s in el­e­men­tary ed­u­ca­tion from Eastern Con­necti­cut State Univer­sity. He said he also has school prin­ci­pal cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. He is the past pres­i­dent and cur­rent board mem­ber of New Lon­don-based Cen­tro de la Co­mu­nidad.

He has been a po­lar­iz­ing fig­ure on the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion, whose mem­bers voted 5-2 re­cently to for­mally cen­sure him. The cen­sure was a a pub­lic rep­ri­mand for what other mem­bers said was in­ap­pro­pri­ate pub­lic com­ments about school em­ploy­ees. Catala has dis­puted the rea­sons for the rep­ri­mand.

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