HARTFORD, Conn. (CBS Connecticut and AP) – The Connecticut House of Representatives has chosen its new Speaker.

On Wednesday, the opening day of the General Assembly, members elected Democratic Berlin Rep. Joe Aresimowicz as the newest leader of the chamber. He replaces retiring Speaker Brendan Sharkey of Hamden, who held the position for four years.

Aresimowicz, a union official, was previously the House Majority Leader. That job is now being filled by Democratic Hartford Rep. Matthew Ritter.

Aresimowicz will preside over a chamber that will have the most Republican members in recent years. The Democrats now hold a seven-vote advantage in the chamber.

The new speaker says the only way lawmakers can solve the state’s problems is to “put our political parties aside and do what’s best for the state of Connecticut.”

(© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 

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