Republicans nominate newcomer to face Morris or Peña; District 137 is a question mark

Roger Gisanga shakes hands with state Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) Thursday at the Republican Town Committee meeting in the Norwalk Inn.

Updated, 2:48 p.m., biographical information and endorsement from Andrea Light.

Correction 9:56 p.m. May 28, removes confusion over status of Republican candidate in the 140th District.

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk Republicans are mustering competition for two statehouse seats currently held by veteran Democratic incumbents.

Newcomer Roger Gisanga was nominated at Thursday’s Norwalk Republican Town Committee meeting to run to represent the 140th District in the House of Representatives. Former RTC Chairman Art Scialabba was nominated to represent the 137th District, but as a placeholder, RTC Chairman Pete Torrano said.

That will allow Republicans time to come up with a candidate to face whoever wins the expected primary between five-term incumbent state Rep. Chris Perone (D-137) and Common Councilman David Watts (D-District A), the Democratic Town Committee’s endorsed candidate, Torrano said.

Gisanga will face the winner of an expected Democratic primary in the 140th between former at-large Common Councilman Warren Peña and incumbent state Rep. Bruce Morris.

Republican District B Chairman Harold Bonet said he just met Gisanga.  An immigrant from  Congo, Bonet said, Gisanga was recommended by Andrea Light. Torrano said he thinks Gisanga has lived here for 20 years. He registered to vote in 2001 and was unaffiliated politically.

Republicans recently held a meeting at which they discussed reaching out to the minority community for members. Gisanga gives the local GOP an African-American candidate in a district that has been dominated by minority officials.

NancyOnNorwalk called Gisanga but could not get a good phone connection.

Light sent an enlightening email Friday:

“Roger is a stalwart supporter of Republican ideals: conservatism, personal responsibility and accountability, individual rights. He is purposeful, whether it be in coming to the U.S. and making a new life, working with pro bono attorneys at Yale to secure his citizenship or sponsoring other family and friends in their quests to come to America. I think Roger would be a fine state representative because he is thoughtful and a good listener, and well-grounded and guided by his core beliefs.

“My family got to know Roger’s family many years ago when his Dad came to America on an official government visit. My step-father was Belgian and at the time Zaire was a fledgling state recently separated from its incarnation as the Belgian Congo, Anyway, my parents volunteered to host visitors from Zaire due to their shared Belgian heritage. In meeting Mr. Gisanga they discovered that his oldest son, Roger, and my brother Phil were the same age and so the boys became pen pals. 15 years later it was prudent for Roger to leave Zaire and he came to my family.

“Roger lives in Shorefront Park at my mom’s house; he is like a brother to my brothers and me, but I would say more of a friend to my mom than a son. He is multi-lingual, speaking English and French in addition to several native African languages. His French speaking ability should help him greatly in reaching out to his Haitian constituents.

“Though a newcomer to local politics, I have no reservations in supporting him for this office.”


5 responses to “Republicans nominate newcomer to face Morris or Peña; District 137 is a question mark”

  1. John Hamlin

    We certainly need a change in that district and in Hartford.

  2. peter parker

    Well, if nothing else this will make things interesting.

  3. Joe Miano

    I have known Roger for many years. His pragmatic approach to problem-solving reminds me of the Republicans we used to respect when I was younger. Roger knows his own mind and won’t be anyone’s pawn or gofer in Hartford. I will vote Republican for the first time in my life when I vote for Roger Gisenga.

  4. EveT

    I’m confused. The article says Roger Gisanga was nominated for the 140th, but then it says “If Republicans find a candidate for the 140th, he will face the winner of an expected primary between former at-large Common Councilman Warren Peña and incumbent state Rep. Bruce Morris.” Isn’t Roger Gisanga that candidate? Or is he nominated for some other district?

    1. Mark Chapman


      We wish we had the money to hire you as a copy editor! You are correct. Gisanga is, indeed, the GOP candidate in 140th and will face the winner of the expected Morris-Peña primary. Art Schilabba is a placeholder in the 137th and he or another candidate would face the Watts-Perone winner.

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