A screen shot of Rep. Tony D’Amelio speaking on the House floor in June, courtesy of CTN

Rep. Tony D’Amelio will step down from the state legislature at the end of the month to focus on family and his restaurant business, the Waterbury Republican announced Tuesday in a press release. 

First elected in 1996, D’Amelio’s departure comes after more than 24 years in office and one year before the end of his current term. In the press release, he attributed the decision in part to the impact of the pandemic on his business, Verdi at Western Hills, a restaurant in Waterbury. 

“The past two years have been difficult for all of us, and like many small business owners I’ve been forced to put in a lot more time personally in order to keep the doors open and fully staffed,” D’Amelio said. “I’m thankful business is picking up again, but the restaurant is taking a substantial amount of my focus and the little extra time I do have I want to spend with my family. It’s not right to commit to a job if you’re unable to give it the full attention it deserves.”

D’Amelio is expected to submit a letter of resignation to the Office of the Secretary of the State, which will set in motion a special election to fill his seat for the last half of his term. The election will be held 46 days after Gov. Ned Lamont issues a writ of special election. 

D’Amelio has comfortably won elections in the district, which in addition to part of Waterbury includes the town of Middlebury. He ran unopposed in 2020 and won a three-way race for the seat with 59% of the vote in 2018. 

In a press release, House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora called D’Amelio’s departure a big loss for his district and the House Republican Caucus. 

“For years, Tony has embodied the best attributes of a state legislator, quietly focusing his energy on helping his constituents navigate the complexities of government as they work through questions or problems affecting their lives,” Candelora said. “That dedication to people in his district has not only earned him accolades at home, but also respect from his colleagues in Hartford who rightly view Tony as someone who walks the walk.”