New Britain Mayor and Central Connecticut alumna Erin Stewart has somewhat insidiously played some immature moves such as blocking CCSU alumnus Bobby Berriault, CCSU student Wyatt Bosworth who is running for New Britain City council and The Recorder’s Assistant News Editor Christopher Marinelli.
The 28-year-old has been able to enjoy a career as mayor young in her professional life, as well as crafting a campaign New Britain residents may find appealing without looking deeper into the other candidates or digging up more information. She is young, likable and relatable especially to the younger voters who are prominent in this city because of CCSU. However, by blocking students as well as campaigners such as Bosworth, it has become clear Stewart is not open to debate or conversation with politicians with opposing viewpoints or competition.
A statement to The Recorder by Bosworth addresses these political contentions as well as the immaturity of blocking students and campaigners on social media:
“She blocked me a little bit after I was nominated by the party. The last and only thing I tweeted to her was about the $36,000 Christmas tree. I tweeted at her sometime in June ‘why is the city spending $36,000 on a tree when we have the fourth highest unemployment in Connecticut and 20,000 residents on food stamps?’ She also said last December she’s in favor of CCSU taking away financial aid for off-campus troubles.”
The Recorder’s assistant news editor was blocked shortly after tweeting, “Politics are a platform for constructive debate on opposing views. Does blocking on twitter help you deconstruct contention?”
Bosworth’s tweet, along with those from other students attempting to spark a civilized political debate, was reason for blocking them from following the mayor’s official Twitter account. It would be one thing if these tweets were offensive or threatening and if this was Stewart’s personal account. But it is her professional account and the tweets towards her were in no way offensive or threatening. Berriault, a New Britain resident, was also blocked and gave a statement to The Recorder:
“I don’t know why she blocked me. I found out she was on Twitter [after] I found out I’ve been blocked, I never tweeted at her — I guess because I’m a Democrat who opposes her politically. Those who govern should be open, transparent and accessible to all and not just the people who share one particular political ideology,” said Berriault. “Public officials should not be using public resources including the city’s social media sites as a platform to target and exclude fellow residents, especially as a means of political retaliation. Mayor Stewart has proved that she is incapable of acting as a leader because of her immaturity.”
The world would make little strides in furthering society or living conditions if we were able to block every negative or opposing view. In the real world, it is necessary to discuss controversial subjects such as unemployment in New Britain, the relationship of the city’s residents and CCSU students as well as other economic policies. A mayor unable to hear criticism should not be in an office where coalition and conversation is the platform for change.
In 2013, The Recorder endorsed Stewart for mayor. With her re-election around the corner, our editorial staff has changed their view of Stewart. We no longer endorse her for mayor or any other candidate running for the position.
Although she ran a successful campaign two years ago, after experiencing her as mayor we feel New Britain is in need of someone mature and considerate to those who wish to express their views to their mayor whether it’s on social media or in person. Her young age and friendships with many young residents in New Britain turned the mayor election in 2013 into a popularity contest, making it an easy win for her.
This time around she’s going to have to prove that she’s capable of acting like a mature and transparent mayor should and actually listen to grievances from residents. This time around, CCSU students are not happy with her; a re-election is unlikely to happen for Stewart unless she conducts a major attitude adjustment.