MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Words spoken at this week’s city council meeting are heating up the mayor’s race in Monticello.

Councilmember Glen Posusta is running to become the city’s next mayor, but a reference he made at Monday’s council meeting is being taken by many as derogatory and unnecessary.

Posusta’s comment was in reference to Muslim cab drivers. It was spoken as Monticello City Council members were debating a public transit contract with Hoglund Transportation, a local bus and taxi provider.

The manager of A+ Taxi Cab was explaining the service Monday night when veteran council member Posusta interjected a question.

“You guys, you know, don’t have Muslim drivers or whatever like Minneapolis?” Posusta said.

Seconds later, Mayor Clint Herbst voiced his disapproval.

“The comment about the Muslim driver’s not a good comment to make,” Herbst stated.

Posusta is a long-serving member of the council and one of three candidates currently running for Monticello mayor.

While he didn’t explain himself immediately after making the comment, or offer an apology, a city spokesperson on Friday made it clear Posusta’s views aren’t shared by officials in city administration.

“Those comments do not reflect the positions or the opinions of the city of Monticello,” said spokesperson Rachel Leonard.

But others in town are speaking up. Posusta’s reference to Muslim cab drivers touched a nerve with resident Jeff Gardner.

“I was just really taken a back,” Gardner said.

He quickly fired off a sharply-worded letter to the editor in the Monticello Times, asking readers if Posusta is a bigot.

“In my mind I think at the time I thought it was his idea of humor, but it was so inappropriate, and it’s not what we want to have here,” Gardner said.

We offered Councilmember Posusta a chance to explain what he meant by the comment, but he declined an on-camera interview. He did comment over the telephone.

“People are reading more into it,” Posusta said. “I meant they must be the best drivers.”

Posusta was running a very visible race up to this point. He has a lot of name recognition, and his yard signs are a common sight around town.

Bill Hudson