A city councilwoman in Trenton, N.J. has apologized after calling the city’s openly gay mayor a “drug-addict pedophile” in a heated exchange during a conference call about the COVID-19 crisis on Saturday.
But Councilwoman Robin Vaughn is refusing calls for her resignation, and her colleagues voted 5-2 against a motion to censure her for the comments about Mayor Reed Gusciora, which he called “hurtful and vile.”
For a transcript of Vaughn’s comments, including audio, visit the New Jersey Globe. Here’s one segment of the meeting:
“I am deeply and specifically sorry for the language that has offended so many. It was also not my intent to attack anyone on the basis of any classification or personal preferences, but [I] should have been more sensitive to the potential implication of my words and how they might be perceived,” Vaughn said in an apology she posted to Facebook and Twitter on Wednesday.
“I was wrong and I own that,” she continued. “As an elected official, my responsibility to the citizenry is to represent with dignity, decency and respect of all persons, no matter our individual differences, behaviors or presentations.”
In a subsequent post, Vaughn appeared to respond to calls for her resignation by declaring that she was “elected by the people” and is “unbought and unbossed.” And on Thursday, she expressed support for a rally organized by a supporter who alleges that Gusciora provoked her during the conference call with racially motivated remarks.
Gusciora said he regrets calling Vaughn an “idiot,” a “child,” a “little a–hole” and suggesting she should be lobotomized. But he denied the comments were based on race.
On Tuesday, the council declined to take disciplinary action against Vaughn.
The Trentonian reports: Legislators Jerell Blakeley and Joe Harrison were the only ones who voted “yes” in a 5 to 2 defeat. Vaughn called the mayor a “drug addict pedophile” and suggested he runs “young boys” through City Hall. She also accused councilman Harrison of sucking Gusciora’s “d**k,” suggested they weren’t real men and called Harrison’s mother a “whore,” among other insults. … Harrison, who moved for the censure, thanked some of the political heavyweights who demanded Vaughn’s ouster and said he hasn’t ruled out taking legal action against Vaughn and other council members making hateful and demeaning comments about his family. “You crossed the line,” he said, renewing his call for Vaughn’s resignation.
More from CBS Philly: Vaughn never responded to interview requests made by Eyewitness News. However, about a dozen of her supporters rallied in front of City Hall [on Thursday], with some holding signs that read “I Stand With Councilwoman Vaughn.” The West Ward councilwoman did not appear at the rally, but did post an apology online Wednesday night. … Still many, like Garden State Equality, want Vaughn to go further. “I would think the right thing to do here would be to resign given that her words are an attack on the diversity of Trenton’s community,” said Christian Fuscarino with Garden State Equality. Several religious leaders with the New Jersey Community for Conscience also want Vaughn to step down. “Councilwoman Vaughn’s use of homophobic language and homophobic tropes are unacceptable for an elected official and are part of a troubling pattern that included her defense last year of the use of an antisemitic slur by the Trenton City Council President,” the group said in a statement. Meantime, Gov. Phil Murphy and Sens. Cory Booker and Bob Menendez all believe Vaughn should resign, but it does not appear she will step down.
Sen. Booker said in a statement: “From her previous defense of anti-Semitic rhetoric in 2019, to her hateful words used against the LGBTQ community this weekend, Councilwoman Vaughn has shown a pattern of intolerance that has no place on the Trenton City Council. The people of Trenton deserve better, which is why I am calling on Councilwoman Vaughn to step down immediately.”
Watch CBS Philly’s report below.
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