Former Republican Mayor Timothy Stewart is facing charges of racism from city residents and calls from members of the public for his resignation or removal from his position leading the Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce. Meanwhile, State Representative Bobby Sanchez (D-New Britain) held a press conference critical of Stewart’s comments that, “the inmates continue to run the neighborhood,” in a discussion about the city’s North Oak neighborhood.
At issue were comments that Stewart apparently made on Facebook in response to criticism by a resident of the North Oak neighborhood that the city has not done enough for that neighborhood.
A screen image posted by the resident shows Stewart referring to the criticism as, “B.S.”, and then juxtaposing a list of city services in the North-Oak neighborhood with a comment that, “Unfortunately the inmates continue to run the neighborhood.”
The, “inmates continue to run the neighborhood,” comment sparked fierce outrage online, with comments accusing Stewart of racism and saying that he is unfit to continue serving in his leadership role in the community as President of the Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce. The North Oak neighborhood has a large Latino and African American population.
Rep. Sanchez organized a press conference that was also attended by State Senator Terry Gerratana (D-New Britain), Ald. Richard Reyes (D-AL) and Ald. Manny Sanchez (D-AL) to highlight concerns about Stewart’s comments. Residents at the press conference are said to have called for Stewart’s resignation from leadership at the Chamber of Commerce.
In comments in a November 29, 2017 New Britain Herald article before the press conference, Stewart only apologized, “to anyone who thinks my comments were meant to be derogatory in any way.” Saying, “they absolutely were not”, Stewart said his comments were meant to defend city policies in the neighborhood. In a later Herald article, he apologized for his, “poor word choice.”
Timothy Stewart resumed great stature in the affairs of the city when, in 2013, his daughter, Erin Stewart, was elected to his former position as mayor. With that new influence behind him, the elder Stewart, shortly after his daughter’s election as mayor, was selected, himself, as the President of the Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce. Between his own position in the Chamber of Commerce and his daughter’s as mayor, Timothy Stewart is reputed to exercise great influence in the affairs of the community.
Editor’s note (11/30/2017): This article was updated with additional words of apology from Stewart.