July 10–NEW BRITAIN — Mayor Erin Stewart’s Instagram photo from a July 4th barbecue and a brief Facebook update in June — both posted on her personal accounts — have made their way into the public forum.
Courant columnist Kevin Rennie, a former Republican state senator, posted both on his “Daily Ructions” blog, along with criticisms of the city’s 27-year-old mayor.
“Erin Stewart wraps herself in a flag. Spare a thought for New Britain,” Rennie wrote above Stewart’s Instagram photo of herself draped in what looks at first like a very thin flag. “Poor New Britain. This may not be what they expected last November.”
Stewart on Wednesday said she sees nothing objectionable. She said it was a flag-patterned Riverberry scarf.
“I was at a July 4th barbecue like millions of other Americans” and sent the photo to friends through a restricted, personal Instagram account, she said Wednesday. “I’m a little confused as to why a scarf would be making such a stir. I won’t be taking this [picture] down.”
A week or so earlier, Rennie posted a screenshot of her personal Facebook page, where she’d posted what looked like an obscenity with one of the letters changed to avoid typing the actual obscenity. He followed it was a screenshot of a later version edited to read “Who in this world can one trust.” Rennie decribed this as “New Britain’s poorly advised and struggling mayor, Erin Stewart, posed a thought for the ages on her Facebook page and then reconsidered.”
Stewart said Wednesday that the post came after disturbing personal news, and added “Politicians are people too.”
When asked if she’d be curtailing use of social media, Stewart replied “no.”
She noted that she created a separate Facebook account for city business after she was elected in November, and that it’s helped reach a generation of residents who don’t often pay attention to city government.
“Social media has gotten a younger generation involved in government and politics,” she said, lamenting that political attacks are being made based on her personal accounts.
“This is the world we live in,” she said.
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