ROSELAND, NJ — After apologizing for exchanging what were deemed to be inappropriate text messages, Roseland Borough Councilmen Thomas Tsilionis and David Jacobs resigned from the council this week, effective immediately.
A recently revealed string of text messages sent between Mayor John Duthie and all council members with the exception of Michele Tolli included some language using racial and ethnic slurs from both Tsilionis and Jacobs. Although both have since apologized and said these messages were not a reflection of who they are as people, the councilmen were made to resign from their positions on the governing body.
It should be noted that despite being in a group chat, the string of text messages in question was an exchange strictly between Tsilionis and Jacobs in 2016 teasing each other about their Greek and Jewish heritages. Neither man harbors any anti-Semitic, anti-Greco or other biases, they said.
It was also revealed that the incident might have been used by other members of the council to score political points.
According to a press release provided by Mayor Duthie, Essex County Republican Chairman Al Barlas and Roseland Republican Chairman Mary Comito, the exchanges between the councilmen were “offensive and indefensible.”
“Regardless of circumstance, racial and ethnic-based comments have no place in our accepted discourse,” the release stated. “We condemn any disparaging comments in any form against any group or individual based on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, age or disability.”
“Roseland residents deserve all of our attention and our efforts without distractions or political fighting. It is our hope that those who have used this regrettable incident to score political points will stop and allow us to get back to the business of people of Roseland.”