FLEMINGTON, NJ - Acrimony over Facebook comments Mayor Betsy Driver made about President Donald Trump and his supporters continued to bubble at a council meeting Monday night, with several residents demanding an apology from the mayor and one threatening to recall her from public office.
Driver, whose marriage to Loretta Nagel Borowsky could be threatened by a Supreme Court decision on the legality of same sex marriages, wrote a scathing Facebook comment condemning justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. The two criticized the high court's 2015 same-sex marriage decision when the court declined to hear a case brought by a former Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue a marriage license for such couples.
She also criticized the president, and, using profanity, said she would “unfriend” people who supported him. Upon reading it, Hunterdon County GOP chairman Gabe Plummer demanded an apology and her resignation, followed by state GOP chairman Doug Steinhardt, who demanded an apology.
On Monday night, resident Rob Wall, an avowed Trump supporter, said he didn’t care about her views, but took issue with the language she used.
"You are the mayor, act like it," he said.
He praised an unsuccessful attempt to censure Driver by council members Kim Tilly and Michael Harris two weeks ago, while criticizing those who didn’t support the measure.
Resident Robert Shore said he would cede his three minutes for public comment to Driver for her apology.
“I would like to have three minutes of silence unless the mayor will answer why she can't apologize to this community,” he said, adding that he intends to begin circulating a petition to recall the mayor.
The mayor declined to speak and the three minutes was spent in silence.
As of Tuesday, recall paperwork had not been filed with Borough Clerk Sallie Graziano, who also serves as the borough election official.
According to the state Elections Board, a three-person recall committee needs to notify the borough of its intent to begin circulating a petition. It has 160 days from then to secure 25 percent of the signatures of the borough’s registered voters, amounting to just over 550 signatures.
If the petition driver is successful, a recall question would then be added to the ballot during the next election.
Resident Alan Brewer said an official recall committee, of which he is a member, was formed Oct. 17, and paperwork regarding the formation was filed within 10 days, as required by the state.
Social media posts and emails have been circulating suggesting that such a movement is being organized.
A GoFundMe campaign has raised nearly $1,500 for a recall effort, although it doesn’t meet the state’s legal requirements for election campaign fundraising because donations can't be anonymous, nor can they be made by a third party, according to the state elections board.
The flare-up has gained the attention of the national press, driving membership of a Remove Betsy Driver Facebook page created in May, which went from 124 members to over 700 in a matter of days. As of last week, the page was switched from public to private.
Driver, though, still maintains support in the borough.
Another Facebook group called Support Mayor Driver was formed just after news of her comments broke. It has 273 members and the page remains public.
“I'm here. I'm reading. And I thank you for your support,” Driver wrote on the page Monday night. “Right now, I'm focused on the upcoming election and completing the transformation of Flemington into a 100 percent Democratic council. I'll have much more to say once the election is over, and we have reclaimed our nation.”