WAYNE — Despite a statement read by Councilman Richard Jasterzbski that he would not step down from his council post, the council passed a vote of “no confidence” and requested the official’s resignation.The motion passed with five affirmative votes. Jasterzbski voted against the motion and Councilwomen Aileen Rivera and Lonni Miller Ryan abstained. Councilman James Jimenez was absent.
The vote followed comments from five councilmen condemning the language and events caught on tape of Jasterzbski arguing with a Passaic County Regular Republican Organization volunteer.
Jasterzbski’s statement read at the council meeting was punctuated by jeers and comments from the crowd of several dozen citizens present.
“I will first start by saying, unequivocally, without question that I will not be resigning from my position,” Jasterzbski said. “In fact, now more than ever I see why I need to be here fighting for my constituents and the integrity of the political process. This is not to say that I am proud of the allegations against me or the vocabulary that is alleged I used.”
Wednesday marked the first Wayne Township council meeting since a harassment complaint was filed against Jasterzbski stemming from the recorded expletive-laden tirade.
On June 4, the volunteer, Susan Enderly, a Wayne resident, was completing paperwork at the organization’s Wayne office when Jasterzbski, a Republican representing Ward 1, entered. The two argued about campaign signs that had been removed from a window at the PCRRO headquarters at 1220 Hamburg Tpk., according to police records.
In the video, recorded by Enderly and one of her daughters using cellphones, Jasterzbski is seen standing very close to Enderly, pointing at her while angrily making sexual comments and shouting expletives over five or six minutes.Both parties have obtained legal representation.
Jasterzbski’s lawyer, Nima Ameri, issued a statement Tuesday afternoon on behalf of his client:
“Mr. Jastrezbski does not condone the alleged dialogue that occurred, however he clearly cares about fairness and the political system,” read the statement. “The alleged exchange is a result of serious allegations of a candidate removing political signs of another candidate.”
The statement also said the councilman finds it “most disturbing” the video appears to be cut and claims Enderly’s comments were edited out.
According to the lawyer’s statement, Jasterzbski said the incident appears to be “staged” and that he was baited in retaliation to a fraud and conspiracy suit he filed against the PCRRO for a separate incident.
Enderly’s lawyer, Douglas Kinz, also issued a statement:
“The lewd and demeaning obscenities which were hurled at Ms. Enderly would be offensive enough if they came from a schoolyard bully. The fact that they were made by an elected public official in the presence of Ms. Enderly’s two daughters is unconscionable. The citizens of Wayne deserve better than to be represented by someone so shamelessly lacking in basic standards of civility and decency.”
He added the full video supplied to police was captured on two phones and about 10 minutes long, and news outlets may have edited any copy of it for brevity. Kinz said Enderly has nothing to do with Jasterzbski’s claim of unreimbursed money given to PCRRO, because at the time she was not an employee but a volunteer for the organization.
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Several other residents took to the podium to condemn Jasterzbski’s behavior shown in the video, including Ruth Hayden.
“I am a resident of the first ward and I don’t want you anymore,” said Haydengan in reference to the councilman’s previous comment that he will represent Ward 1 until “they don’t want me anymore.”
She along with other residents asked for Jasterzbski’s resignation and asked the council to take action if he would not. Those options failing, residents will take it upon themselves to petition and recall the councilman, she said.
Resident and gubernatorial hopeful Bill Brennan, who led an unsuccessful Democratic bid for governor on Tuesday, echoes her statements, adding he would lead a recall election and petition if necessary.
“You did not even apologize,” resident Beth Marmolejos said while addressing Jasterzbski. “That is the worst part of the whole thing. There is no remorse.”
Sen. Kevin O’Toole penned a letter to Jasterzbski requested his resignation, which was signed by 20 other Bergen and Passaic County Democrat and Republican senators and members of the Assembly.
“Your behavior in that video is not only unacceptable for any elected official, but your language towards a female volunteer is reprehensible for any person to use towards another,” the letter reads.
Mayor Chris Vergano, who Tuesday night secured the Republican party’s nomination in a contested primary, was among the first to issue a statement condemning Jasterzbski’s conduct and call for his resignation “immediately” from his council post and position in mayoral challenger Miller Ryan’s campaign.
He said he was “glad” the council took the “no confidence” vote and reiterated his request for the councilman’s resignation.
“This reprehensible, sexist, disgusting behavior is unacceptable for any decent person,” said Vergano in a statement issued Monday afternoon. County Clerk Kristin Corrado echoed the mayor’s statement, quoting him in her Facebook post, which also called for the councilman’s resignation.
Corrado prevailed in her own bid for the Republican nomination for State Senate Tuesday night.