SOUTHINGTON — A Republican town councilor said he’s not stepping down following a call from Democratic party leaders for him to do so.
Michael DelSanto said he’d reposted an image on social media that was “offensive to some residents” and later removed it. During Monday night’s council meeting, he apologized for the distraction “by some residents and members of the public these last few weeks” over what he’d posted.
“I’m ready to move on and assist in the governance of town matters,” DelSanto said.
The image he reposted consisted of a photo of the phrase "Black Lives Matter" written in black spray paint on a bridge wall. The graffiti had been altered with an "o," also painted on the bridge, to read "Black Olives Matter."
Those questioning him “will never be satisfied with my response,” DelSanto said, adding that he’s choosing not to comment further on the matter. He thanked the hundreds of residents who’d extended their support for him recently.
If voters didn’t think he should serve on the council, DelSanto said they’ll have a chance to make their wishes known next year during the municipal election.
Last month, Southington Democratic Town Chairwoman Erica Roggeveen Byrne released a statement on behalf of the party asking that DelSanto step down from his elected position. She said the reposted image made light of a life or death issue. His resignation would show that local leaders take racism seriously, Roggeveen Byrne wrote.
DelSanto was elected to his first council term last year when Republicans took six of the nine council seats. He was the fifth highest vote getter, surpassing all three Democrats and a Republican who took seats on the council during the election.
He served as chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission for the past decade.
Steve Kalkowski, Republican town chairman, said DelSanto had put in years of good service to the town.
“He represents the citizens of Southington and he always has their back and best interest,” Kalkowski said. “To me, I think this just needs to be put behind us. We need to move forward as a town. We need to let the Town Council focus on continuing to improve life and education for our citizens.”
Southington has benefited from Republican leadership amidst difficult times, Kalkowski said.
“At the end of the day, our citizens spoke very loudly in November of 2019. They demanded change and they demanded leadership. That’s what we brought to the table, that’s what we’re bringing to the table,” he said.