A Republican mayoral candidate under fire for suggesting that a working mom doesn’t have time to be mayor says that his comments have been taken “completely out of context.”
“There was no intent to put her down because she is a single mother,” said Robert Colletti, 68, about his opponent in the Elmwood Park primary, Maggie Giandomenico, a 33-year-old mother of two. “I respect mothers who are working.”
Colletti apologized for the way a campaign mailer was phrased.
“The essence of it was to measure the amount of time I could put in compared to anyone else as a full-time mayor” he said. “In retrospect, I could have worded it better. I wish I could take back the wording and rephrase it.”
Colletti says he hopes to move on from the fallout over comments, and rejected a call by State Sen. Kristin Corrado (R-Totowa) that he drop out of the race.
Still, Colletti doubled down on his belief that the borough would be better served by a mayor who can devote more time to the job.
“What’s a better scenario: a mayor who is retired and serving full-time versus someone who works?” Colletti asked.
It’s not clear whether Elmwood Park wants a full-time mayor.
Richard Mola held the post for 45 years until his death in 2016. When Mola first won job in 1971, he was a 35-year-old teacher and the father of two young daughters. For 23 years, he took on additional responsibilities as a Bergen County freeholder.
“This is a part-time job,” acknowledged Mola’s widow, Geri, a staunch Colletti supporter and part of his campaign team. “The mayor doesn’t need to be there all the time. I don’t think any of us think Maggie can’t handle the job.”
Elmwood Park is still reeling over the resignation of mayor Francisco Caramagna, who faces election tampering charges. Caramagna has not withdrawn his bid for re-election and is unopposed in the Democratic primary.