BERLIN - The Board of Finance chairman is calling on the Republican candidate running for the state representative seat in District 30 to withdraw from the race.
Finance Board Chairman Sam Lomaglio, a Republican, said GOP candidate Steven Baleshiski’s negative Facebook posts, that first came to light in The Herald late last week, should call into question Baleshiski’s fitness for office.
“As chairman, I just want to clarify that I am a Republican but I don’t agree with the Republican Town Committee for nominating a person, Steven (Baleshiski), who believes these bigoted thoughts and believes that we shouldn’t have (religious) freedom…” said Lomaglio during a Finance Board meeting on Tuesday. “I find it appalling that we have a candidate that wants to split the town in half. I want people in town to know that I have nothing to do with the Berlin Republican Town Committee.”
The Facebook posts made by Baleshiski said a survivor of the Parkland school shooting in Florida can “burn in hell.” One post read people who are Muslim embrace “worshiping the devil” and he distinguished himself as a white male while calling African American Congresswoman Maxine Waters “dumb.”
Baleshiski told The Herald he didn’t like people who use tragedies to take away rights from Americans, he’s a devout Christian and doesn’t want to be led astray and wanted to dispel the notion that all President Donald Trump supporters are racist.
“I’m not going to call for (Baleshiski’s) resignation,” and he shouldn’t consider resigning, said Brian Callahan, Baleshiski’s campaign manager. “Words don’t hurt anybody. He didn’t do anything to hurt anybody. Nobody got threatened,” he added, referring to the phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
“I think he regrets” some of the things he said, Callahan said.
“It’s morally and ethically wrong,” he added, to attack Baleshiski’s character when there are larger issues plaguing the state like its financial status. “They don’t know anything about him. This whole thing is to get people to hate Steven,” and Baleshiski will have this tacked on for the rest of his life.
During the meeting, Lomaglio urged Mayor Mark Kaczynski and the three other Republicans in the majority on the Town Council to denounce Baleshiski.
“It’s important that every elected official in this town stands on the side of anti-bigotry,” said Lomaglio. “I am calling for him to withdraw his candidacy tonight, and I hope the council can do the same thing and we can save an embarrassment to the town of Berlin. Because right now he’s an embarrassment to the town.”
Kaczynski and the Republican Town Committee do not condone hate speech and/or actions, said Republican Town Committee Chairwoman Anne Reilly Wednesday morning.
Finance board member Sal Bordonaro, Baleshiski campaign treasurer criticized Lomaglio’s comments.
“I don’t think you should use this meeting as a forum for your political views… I really don’t think you should,” said Bordonaro Tuesday. “I think one of the things that we talked about months ago is decorum...”
In April, Lomaglio called for decorum with the board after learning Bordonaro had met with the Republicans on the council before they made cuts to the finance board’s budget proposal. Bordonaro at that time said Lomaglio made defamatory statements about him outside of finance board meetings.
“This is very important...this is what I believe...I don’t want to be lumped in with other Republicans on bigotry,” said Lomaglio in response to Bordonaro Tuesday night.
A rally against hate, spawned by the disclosure of the Facebook posts is scheduled to be held outside the Board of Education offices, 238 Kensington Road at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.