A self-proclaimed “Holocaust revisionist” wants to be Hilton Head’s next mayor, but said his beliefs will not impact his local anti-development platform.
Michael Santomauro, 59, filed on Monday, according to his statement of candidacy filing form.
He plans to run on three major issues: improving transparency in town council meetings, increasing traffic-flow efficiency and implementing a moratorium on both residential and commercial building.
Santomauro has no previous experience in town government. He worked as the editorial director of U.S. operations for the Theses and Dissertations Press, which publishes books that debate the Holocaust. He also runs the website, RePortersNoteBook.com, which claims to offer rewards for those who can prove the validity of Holocaust events, such as the death toll and the existence of Nazi gas chambers.
The mayoral candidate first made headlines in New York City in 2003 when subscribers to his email service “Roommate Finders” got upset after they received a steady stream of emails spreading his “revisionist” beliefs that question historical accounts of the Holocaust, according to the New York Times.
Santomauro said that he saw nothing wrong with sending the material to people who had not requested it, as long as they had the option to unsubscribe, the New York Times reported.
In 2004, dozens of protestors surrounded his home to chant “evict the Nazi” after he was accused of holding “Neo Nazi” meetings, according to the New York Post. At the time, he told the newspaper that the Nazi label is “totally inaccurate.”
This week, he told the Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette newspapers that the protestors were “part of a domestic terrorism group.”
In 2011, Santomauro was in the New York Times again, after he sent an email to the PTA that shook parents at his child’s school recommending the book “Debating the Holocaust: A New Look at Both Sides.”
At the time, Santomauro apologized and claimed he meant to send the message to one of his revisionist circles, according to the New York Times.
He has lived at his Hilton Head property located near Palmetto Bay Road since 2015. He said his “revisionist viewpoints” will have “no effect on [his platform] whatsoever.” He added they may if he were running for Congress.
Although Santomauro filed for candidacy Monday morning, a tweet from his account dated over a year ago suggests that he has been considering running for mayor since May of 2017.
“I’ll be a full-time mayor, not a part-time mayor,” Santomauro said about changes he would bring to the office if elected. “I’m not a builder like the current mayor,” in reference to his own anti-growth platform.
On an increasingly saturated island, Santomauro said he wants to see Hilton Head cut back on competition. He said he sees no need for new restaurants that cannot afford to pay employees a living wage and only make traffic problems worse.
Santomauro joins three other candidates on the ballot as of Tuesday morning, including native islander Rochelle Williams, Town Council member John McCann and former Hilton Head mayor Tom Peeples. The mayoral election will be held on Nov. 6. Potential candidates have until Aug. 15 to file.