When state Rep. Themis Klarides, R-Derby, first decided to run for political office, she never dreamed she would move up the legislative leadership ladder quickly.

Now beginning her fifth year of representing the voters of Derby, Orange and Woodbridge, she has been chosen to be an assistant minority leader in the state House of Representatives.

"I was surprised and honored that (state Rep.) Bob Ward had enough confidence in my ability and work ethic to put me in this position," Klarides said, after learning she was chosen for the post.

"Rep. Klarides has played a significant role in helping our caucus define and advance policy. She has shown great leadership in the House Republican caucus, and the appointment of her as an Asst. Minority Leader was an easy and natural one," said House Minority Leader Robert M. Ward, R-86.

Now, when important issues need to be discussed, Klarides participates in leadership caucuses, which help to prioritize issues for the rank and file members of the House.

During the last legislative session, Klarides introduced legislation to make Connecticut's university dormitories smoke free. The bill was signed by the governor and become law in July.

Klarides also headed the effort that made voyeurism a crime in Connecticut and fought to improve health care access and prescription drug coverage for seniors. Additionally, she co-sponsored legislation that required certain individual and group health insurance policies to cover colorectal cancer screening, pap smears, and annual mammograms starting at age 40, instead of 50.

Prior to becoming an assistant minority leader, Klarides was a ranking member of the Insurance Committee , where her office was located. Now she has moved into the House Republican chambers, has a priority parking space and a new license plate that, in addition to listing the district she represents, 114, distinguishes her new position in the General Assembly.

When asked what she was currently focusing her legislative energies on, Klarides quickly answered.

"My priority right now is to find the most equitable solution to the budget crisis," she said.

Klarides is a 1987 graduate of Trinity College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and is a 1992 graduate of Quinnipiac School of Law. She is admitted to the Connecticut Bar and the United States District Court of Connecticut. She currently practices law with Attorney Shawn K. Splan of Shelton.