COLLEGE STATION, Texas — A College Station city councilman says the controversial “habla español” comment he made during a candidate forum was “misconstrued.”
The BCS Chamber of Commerce and WTAW News Talk 1620 hosted a candidate forum Monday.
Dennis Maloney, who is running for re-election to Place 6, was asked whether College Station is the best city it can be based on the current property tax rate.
“Out of cities our size, comparable cities our size in the state of Texas, we rank 17th as the lowest tax rate,” Maloney said. “The ones that do better than us? You wouldn't want to live there unless you habla español only."
After receiving backlash from members of the Hispanic community, Maloney posted a statement on Facebook.
“I regret that my comment was misconstrued and hurtful to members of our community, especially our Spanish-speaking community of which I am a part of,” said Maloney who minored in Spanish at Texas A&M. “I was trying to convey the message that was relayed to me by some of our Hispanic relatives currently living in the Valley in South Texas.”
Wednesday afternoon, Maloney sat down with KRHD.
"Are you sorry you said it? Or are you sorry the way it was perceived?" asked Austin Walker.
"Had I have had more time, it's a forum, you only have one minute to answer," said Maloney. "If I could have had more time, I could have explained."
But Maloney said he would take back his comment, if he could.
"I know some people were hurt by it, people that don't know me. I regret I said that," said Maloney.
Maloney's wife of 48 years and two children are Hispanic.
"I've been a part of the community for 50 years and I never wanted to disrespect of hurt anyone," said Maloney.
Maloney was elected to his current seat in 2018.
He was also on the city council from 1999-2005 and 2008-2011.
Maloney faces two challengers on the November ballot -- David Levine and Marie-Anne Mousseau-Holland.
"I'm the old white guy, therefore I must be a racist? That's the storyline. It's sickening," said Maloney. "I've lived in this community for 50 years and no one has ever accused me of being a racist."
Maloney said it's up to voters to decide who they listen to and what they believe.