WALLINGFORD — The Town Council unanimously voted to censure Councilor Craig Fishbein this week for retweeting a meme with a racial message.
Fishbein himself voted in favor of his own censure.
He retweeted a meme on Saturday showing an image of presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden giving a speech with the words “If you aren’t setting fire to buildings.. ..THEN YOU AIN’T BLACK” on top of the image.
Fishbein issued an apology Monday afternoon and removed the image from his page a couple hours later.
Councilor Joe Marrone made the motion to censure Fishbein during Tuesday night’s special meeting. Vice Chairman Tom Laffin seconded the motion.
Chairman Vincent Cervoni said the motion was out of order since the Town Council is not supposed to add items to a special meeting agenda. Town Corporation Counsel Janis Small said it’s a problem under the Freedom of Information Act.
Councilor Chris Shortell made a motion to appeal Cervoni’s decision. Fishbein abstained, Cervoni voted no, all others voted to appeal Cervoni’s decision.
Marrone read a statement calling the meme Fishbein retweeted “backwards and unsophisticated” and that the Town Council should distance itself from such comments.
Fishbein said it was a "very bad mistake" and that he tried to undo the retweet at the time, but couldn't figure out how. He figured out how to delete it Monday, but by then, "things had happened," he said. He apologized again for his “wrong action.”
Fishbein has been a member of the Town Council since 2009. He’s also a state representative for the 90th District, which comprises parts of Wallingford and Cheshire, and was first elected in 2016. He’s currently vice chair of the Connecticut General Assembly Conservative Caucus.
An online petition calling for Fishbein’s resignation from his state legislative seat had received more than 2,120 signatures since Monday evening.
Fishbein is currently running to retain his state seat unopposed.
A Democrat would have until June 11 to gather 143 petition signatures to be on the ballot. A Republican challenger would have until June 11 to petition to force a party primary. A third party candidate, from the Working Families Party or Independent Party, has until August to petition be on the November ballot.