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John Sanzone, a Cambridge City Council candidate, has decided to end his campaign following revelations this week that he had posted racist and homophobic comments on Stormfront.org, a white supremacy website, when he was a teenager.
Following reports in The Cambridge Chronicle about his past online comments, Sanzone took to Facebook, making public his desire to withdraw himself not only from the election but also local politics more broadly.
“I am withdrawing completely from Cambridge public life, with a great deal of regret,” Sanzone wrote.
The online statements under scrutiny began in 2004, when Sanzone was a teenager and continued into his time at college, Sanzone told The Crimson in a statement.
Sanzone wrote in an email that his past comments have “no relationship whatsoever” with his current views. In a statement to The Chronicle, Sanzone, who is gay, described himself as closeted and “obviously in denial” when he took to the white supremacy website looking for “some sort of belonging.”
In the wake of the revelations, some fellow City Council candidates spoke out in support of Sanzone.
“It’s diametrically opposed to the way he is today,” said Jan Devereux, a City Council candidate. “I believe he’s trying to do good things for the city.”
Dennis Carlone, a current City Council member, likewise agreed that Sanzone had changed since the time of his online comments.
“I believe that, today, John is a mature, accepting person and not the person that we see in those words from his youth,” Carlone wrote in an email.
Members of the Slate for Cambridge, of which Sanzone was a member prior to the revelations, spoke out against Sanzone’s past comments, yet were supportive of his work in Cambridge.
“Slate for Cambridge candidates didn’t know of his past beliefs and condemn them in the strongest terms,” the group wrote in a joint statement. “We’re also encouraged by the empathetic public response from a city that has come to know John for who he is now—an active, inclusive community member working to make Cambridge a better place.”
While Sanzone has said that he no longer wishes to participate in Cambridge civic life, the ballots had been printed and Sanzone will still be listed as a candidate, according to Tanya L. Ford, the executive director of the Cambridge Election Commission.
Although he had never held an official position in Cambridge government, Sanzone was known as a strong advocate for local transit issues.
“Over the last few years, I made Cambridge my everything, and whatever I was in my younger days has nothing to do with who I am today. I’m sorry I was not a better person,” Sanzone wrote on Facebook.
—Staff writer Samuel Vasquez can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @svasquez14.
—Staff writer Hanl Park can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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