SOUTHINGTON — The Christopher Columbus bust in front of the North Main Street municipal center will remain following party-line Town Council votes Monday night.
The six council Republicans defeated motions supported by the three Democrats to take down the statue, as well as a proposal to form a committee to determine its future.
Democrats asked that Republicans support the formation of a group of town leaders and members to find a solution to contention over the Columbus statue.
Chris Poulos, a Democrat, said the committee could help find “a united path forward for Southington,” concerning the bust.
The proposal was defeated in a party-line vote. Victoria Triano, council chairwoman and a Republican, said the council needed to come to a decision.
“It would make it more painful and more divisive” to continue discussions, she said.
About 50 people took part in an online public forum last month about the issue. Both sides have also gathered signatures for petitions.
After the defeat of Poulos’ proposal, Democratic councilor Val DePaolo proposed removing the statue.
“For me the Christopher Columbus statue, to many in our community, represents racism, injustice and brutality,” she said.
Some town residents don’t feel heard or included, DePaolo said, and the statue’s presence “contributes to the oppression of our neighbors, friends.”
Triano said everyone’s voice is important and that the council has heard a variety of opinions.
“But we have to look at all of our residents. There was passion on both sides,” she said.
DePaolo’s proposal to take down the statue was defeated in a party-line vote.
Local Italian-American groups donated the statue. The council unanimously approved the placement of the bust in front of the Municipal Center on North Main Street in 2015. It was erected in 2017.
Bill Dziedzic, a Republican councilor, said that the John Weichsel Municipal Center was leased and not town-owned at the time of the council vote.
Triano said the council’s Republican majority has no interest in taking up the issue again.