MAHWAH, NJ — Amid record turnout at the polls Tuesday, voters in Bergen County, New Jersey pushed through the first recall vote of a public official in the county in over 25 years.
They ousted Mahwah Mayor Bill Laforet, who won three mayoral elections prior, but his tenure was not without controversy.
“There’s just been so many lies. Irrefutable lies,” said Mahwah resident and recall committee head, Melanie Sue.
Sue and dozens of other residents led the charge to collect over 5,000 signatures, which placed the recall question on the ballot.
Mayor Laforet defended his record Wednesday — touting low taxes, good schools, a triple-A bond rating and safety.
“I don’t regret one thing we’ve done. I’m proud of what we’ve done,” he said.
Residents first tried to recall Laforet in 2015 after he fired the head of the town’s Department of Public Works.
Laforet publicly accused Ed Sinclair, a political foe, of watching porn on a township computer. Soon after, Sinclair suffered a heart attack and died.
“Ed Sinclair was one of the finest employees that we’ve had in this town. And what happened to Ed Sinclair should not have happened to anybody,” said John Roth, who voters elected to replace Laforet. “If he doesn’t regret that, I feel sorry for him.”
The recall comes months after the township was sued by the Attorney General for passing ordinances that allegedly discriminated against Orthodox Jews.
“I stuck up for the civil rights of human beings,” said Laforet. “Because no matter if you’re the Irish in the potato famine or Afro-Americans who want to rent apartments in the Bronx, as elected officials we are obligated to do so.”
“[Laforet] was the one who requested the ordinances from the town council,” said Roth.
Roth will take over as mayor once the town clerk certifies the election results - which could take a few more days.