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Former New Britain mayor facing backlash following ‘inmate’ comment

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NEW BRITAIN – Local elected officials and community members gathered to publicly demand an apology from former New Britain Mayor Timothy Stewart after remarks he made on Facebook.

The post has since been deleted off Facebook but a screen grab has spread on social media and was displayed at a press conference Wednesday.

The meeting was held by State Representative Bobby Sanchez and other local elected officials to condemn the comment which was allegedly written by former mayor Timothy Stewart.

"To call this area a neighborhood that's run by inmates is such an insult," Rep. Sanchez said.

The comment was posted under an article which was shared in a town Facebook forum. The article was about a meeting held earlier in the week addressing problems in the North Oak Neighborhood and residents plea for revitalization.

Stewart’s response defending city efforts in the neighborhood, follows a comment by another community member who wrote that the area is ignored.

New Britain native Annette Velez called his comments derogatory and racist. She spoke out at Tuesday's press conference.

"This should not be allowed, this should not be tolerated, this should not be ignored or swept under the rug," she said.

Stewart is the President of The Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce.

"If those are your feelings about certain people or certain neighborhoods then you certainly should not hold that position," she said.

Stewart released a statement to FOX61:

"I am passionate about the city I call home. I apologize to anyone in the North/Oak NRZ neighborhood that may have been offended by my poor word choice on social media. Evidence of the good work that was accomplished during my tenure by both the city and area residents, working together, still exists and I am extremely proud of it."

He also took to Facebook to express his frustration with social media.

While Wednesday's meeting was held in reaction to the words written by Stewart, Velez made the focus of the press conference what the post was about, her neighborhood. She also attended Monday's North Oak Neighborhood Revitalization Zone meeting.

"Nobody's holding accountable the owners of these buildings that are making us look raggedy, that are not letting us that are trying to strive and do better, look better," she said. "There's buildings here that I don’t even know how people live in them that's how bad they are."

At the meeting she often turned to local leaders to demand change in the area she lives in, the Oak Street area, which is one of the city's most troubled areas.

"When are you guys gonna demand for them to do something for us, today not tomorrow," Velez said.

Timothy Stewart's daughter, current Mayor Erin Stewart released the following statement:

“The Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce is not an entity of the City; it has its own Board of Directors and oversight. The words that were written online were poorly chosen. They are not the views of me or the City.”

Members of the newly elected city council were also at the press conference to condemn the statements made by the former mayor.

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