The three Democrats who represent Trenton in the New Jersey Legislature trashed city officials for statements made on a conference call on Saturday, but unlike other party leaders, stopped far short of calling for resignations.
Instead, State Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Lawrence), Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Trenton) and Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli (D-Hopewell), condemned all of the participants on the call and avoided taking sides in what has become a bitter public disagreement over a city councilwoman’s homophobic slurs.
“We are extremely disappointed in the state of the relationship between particular members of the Trenton Council and Mayor (Reed) Gusciora. The dialogue between the Mayor and Council has no place in government,” the legislators said. “It is not productive nor is it conducive to effectively serving the people of Trenton and fostering a collaborative working relationship between the Mayor and City Council.”
Turner, Reynolds-Jackson and Verrelli said that Councilwoman Robin Vaughn’s “derisive, and offensive commentary was highly unprofessional for a sitting member of public office.”
“It does not matter the tension or heated conversation that may take place during these discussions; what these discussions cannot and should never result in is defamatory personal attacks on fellow colleagues,” they said.
Gov. Phil Murphy, U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, and Democratic State Chairman John Currie are among the party leaders that have called for Vaughn’s immediate resignation.
The legislators also called comments directed at Vaughn by Gusciora and Councilman Joseph Harrison unacceptable.
“At a time when all parties should be focused on civility and solving issues to help move the City of Trenton forward, elected officials should not be displaying such deplorable behavior,” Turner, Reynolds-Jackson and Verrelli said.
Vaughn aimed most of her comments at Gusciora, the city’s openly gay mayor.
Saturday’s conference call included nearly 30 minutes of profanity and slur-laced tirades.
“You’re nothing but an old pedophile running around with little boys,” Vaughn said. “You need to get the fuck out of the office and get the fuck out of Trenton.”
When Harrison stepped up to defend Gusciora, Vaughn told him to “continue to suck Reed’s dick, motherfucker.”
“We don’t have bitch ass men in my family. We don’t have bitch-ass men like you and Reed Gusciora in my family. We got real men in my family, bitch asses. Nothing but a bunch of women, that’s all you are. Bitches,” Vaughn said. “That’s right, running around here with young men, and Reed ain’t nothing but an old pedophile. Bitch-ass mother-fucking mayor.”
Turner, Reynolds-Jackson and Verrelli said that Trenton “needs a plan for the road ahead out of this mess.”
“The Mayor and City Council should direct their focus towards combating the COVID-19 pandemic, not trading petty jabs amongst themselves. We are in the midst of a pandemic that requires our complete attention along with the many other concerns of Trenton residents which must be addressed,” the three Democrats said. “We must figure out the next best steps, and all that it means, for the Council and Administration to get back on track expediently and successfully.”