NEW BRITAIN – A coalition of more than a dozen Democrats met at City Hall on Wednesday to condemn a Facebook post by former Mayor Timothy Stewart and demand his resignation as head of the Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce.
In a screenshot of a Facebook message shared with The Herald late Tuesday night and posted by Stewart, he refers to female Democratic U.S. representatives wearing white during President Donald Trump’s State Of The Union address as “Bitches in heat.” The congresswomen were wearing suffragette white to commemorate the legacy of the women’s suffrage movement.
“In today’s environment, his insensitivity to women won’t stand, and we are calling on the Chamber of Commerce to ask for his resignation or fire him,” said Alderwoman Eva Magnuszewski, president pro tempore of the Common Council. “Those remarks were mean, they were cruel and they were unnecessary.”
The former mayor has since apologized for the comments on his Facebook page and has resigned from the city’s School Building Committee and the Mattabassett District Commission. Mayor Erin Stewart, Tim’s daughter, asked for his resignation and accepted it effective immediately.
“To whom it may concern, My comment on Facebook last evening during the SOTU has caused many people I care about concern over my actions. Let me say that first we are living in a culture where social media has become the public justice system for many who choose to utilize it daily. I along with many other people should know better to not say things that might enflame the public. My comment was wrong and in poor taste in response to a particular time during the speech that I took offense to. This in no way excuses my behavior and I am deeply sorry to not only the women in my life but to all women for the remark. I am also ashamed that I once again have put the Chamber in a difficult position of dealing with a situation that arose from my personal actions outside of work. For that I am extremely sorry as well. I know that the viral effect of this action will continue to enflame people and groups for days to come and I can assure you that I will seek help for the issues that allow me to act in that way. I will begin by terminating my social media accounts immediately after this post and apologize to my wife and daughter. I can only hope (and) pray that people can forgive me for this stupidity even if it means things have to change in my life. I know that my words have hurt many and I will do better as a person I can promise you that,” Tim Stewart said in a Facebook post Wednesday.
“To all of those asking; I’m embarrassed and mortified,” Mayor Erin Stewart wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
This is not the first time Tim Stewart has been in hot water for his Facebook comments. In November 2017 the former mayor was criticized for commenting “the inmates are running the neighborhood” on a Facebook post referring to residents of the North and Oak streets area.
Alderman Carlo Carlozzi, majority leader of the council, said this is “the breaking point” for Democrats regarding Tim Stewart. He said Tim Stewart is a bad representative for the chamber, which aims to recruit and help businesses in New Britain.
“You can’t have somebody who’s the face of the chamber be someone who has such misogynistic thoughts and being such a racist,” Carlozzi said.
Carlozzi encouraged the former mayor to resign from his post at the chamber, and urged the chamber to fire him if he refuses.
Gennaro Bizzarro, chairman of the board of the Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce, issued a written statement Wednesday morning saying he has placed Tim Stewart on administrative leave.
“I could not be more disappointed in the social media post made last night by Tim Stewart. His choice of words was inexcusable and has no place in modern civil discourse. Tim’s words obviously do not reflect the feelings held by the members of the Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce, our staff or myself. As Chairman, I have a duty to confer with my fellow Board members as well as to review our bylaws to ascertain what disciplinary authority we possess and the process by which it can be employed. We are doing that immediately. I will be calling a special meeting of the Chamber board where we will make a decision about Tim’s future with the Chamber. In the meantime, I have placed Tim on administrative leave pending the Board’s action,” Bizzarro wrote in the statement.
Bizzarro, who is currently running for the open state Senate District 6 seat, was appointed to his current city position of Corporation Counsel by Tim Stewart in 2006.
Central Connecticut State University President Zulma Toro sent an email to CCSU staff and students after hearing about the post.
“As this University’s first woman and first Hispanic president, I am disgusted with the behavior and attitude he shared,” Toro wrote in her email.
Former Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, now chairwoman of the Connecticut Democrats, also issued a statement on Tim Stewart’s comments. Wyman pointed out this is not the first time the former mayor has posted something offensive.
“This isn’t about Republicans or Democrats, this is about basic decency. No one should speak about any woman that way, ever,” Wyman said in a statement.
The Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce’s website was down Wednesday afternoon and shows a message that says “undergoing maintenance,” though it was operating late Wednesday morning.
Repeated calls to Tim Stewart and Mayor Erin Stewart and the Chamber have not been returned.
Skyler Frazer can be reached at 860-801-5087 or by email at email@example.com.