Former Republican Mayor Timothy Stewart has reportedly resigned from the influential position of Chamber of Commerce President.
Amid calls for his ouster after a making a misogynistic comment about women members of Congress, as reported by WVIT, the former Republican mayor was apparently forced to relinquish the powerful position of President of the Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce, a position he took shortly after his daughter, Republican Mayor Erin Stewart, was elected.
The City Council President, Ald. Eva Magnuszewski (D-AL) commented after the WVIT report that, “This has been a very long week. It has culminated in this.”
“As a woman, if I wanted to open a storefront business, would I choose New Britain knowing this man was the President of the Chamber of Commerce or would I look in a surrounding town?” Magnuszewski continued. “Attracting new businesses, growing the grand list so we could have lower taxes is hard enough without this animosity and lewd commentary.”
Stewart had been facing harsh criticism since his comment. On Friday (February 8, 2019), City Council Democrats also introduced a resolution for the February 13th Council meeting to pressure the Chamber of Commerce to remove Stewart.
Stewart had held out from resigning from the powerful position for days after the scandal broke, and his words, widely derided as bigoted, and his apparent resignation as a result, are a serious blow to a political machine he has headed that has dominated city government for more than a decade and a half.
Between his own position in the Chamber of Commerce and his daughter’s as mayor, Timothy Stewart is reputed have to been exercising great influence in the affairs of the community. On the Chamber’s website, as of 2017, Stewart touted that, “We have a strong working relationship with the Mayor’s Office.” The Chamber website expanded upon that, saying that, “In conjunction with a strong working relationship with the Mayor’s office, the Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce is able to accomplish various goals regarding the business community and our current and future Chamber members.”
Stewart’s recent misogynistic words renewed a scandal from late 2017 in which he made a comment that was widely criticized as racist. His position at the Chamber of Commerce was protected at that time by the local Republican establishment, despite calls for his removal.
As Erin Stewart sought to distance herself from the 2017 scandal roiling the city by saying that the Chamber, “is not an entity of the city,” it was Gennaro Bizzarro, who works for the younger Stewart as the city corporation counsel, who announced that the elder Stewart would remain as Chamber President, despite the public outrage.
The Hartford Courant quoted Bizzarro at that time, defending Stewart from calls for his removal from the Chamber Presidency, saying, “Tim Stewart has been a tremendous advocate for the entire city of New Britain during his tenure as president of the Greater New Britain Chamber.”
The recent scandal has placed Bizzarro, who is the Republican candidate in the February 26th special election for State Senate, in an unflattering light, and Council Democrats directed tough questions at Bizzarro regarding the scandal on Thursday (February 7, 2019).
“He is now free to say whatever,” commented Magnuszewski, speaking of Stewart, “but instead I hope he gets the help he needs to overcome the hate in his heart and soul.”