By JOHN T. WARD
Red Bank Republican Chairman Michael Clancy resigned from the borough Human Relations Advisory Committee Thursday night, continuing to disavow a text message that the committee’s chairman had termed “extremely threatening” to immigrant children.
Here’s the full text of the statement Clancy issued:
I have just submitted my resignation from the Human Relations Advisory Committee to its Chair, David Pascale. I am leaving the HRAC not because I do not believe in its mission, but because I do. Over the last twenty-four hours, it has become apparent to me that the credibility of the HRAC as a body capable of helping Red Bank remain an inclusive and welcoming town will be tarnished by my continued membership given the nature of recent online stories containing partial truths and comments about my character. In my heart, I know that I embrace diversity and wish for people of all backgrounds to feel safe and welcome in our town. I am hopeful that my resignation today will perhaps make this apparent to others as well. I understand why David would have concerns about my views, and I wish him and all the other HRAC members well as they move forward in their mission. Most importantly, I apologize to anyone in our community who may have felt less welcome in Red Bank as a result of my words, which were never intended to be taken seriously by anyone.
Clancy’s resignation came two days after GOP loyalist Sue Viscomi went public with a text message she and three Republican council members received from Clancy in February. It asked for the names of Red Bank children who were absent from school the same day as a A Day Without Immigrants protests were held nationwide in February.
In the text, which Clancy later told Viscomi was meant as a “joke,” Clancy indicated he would send the list to ICE, or the or the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.
Viscomi, an Ecuadorean immigrant and member of the board of education, called the text “disgusting,” and said that if it was a joke, it was “sick.” She disclosed the text after she was bypassed, without a local party vote, for a spot on this year’s ticket with Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer, who is seeking a second term in a race expected to involve Democrats Michael Ballard and incumbent Councilman Ed Zipprich.
Instead, Clancy chose Dana McArthur, a political newcomer.
Though Clancy termed the comment a joke, Viscomi said that he “has been called out on being racist more than once.” In a statement Thursday night, Viscomi said she offered conciliatory words.
“While it is a personal misfortune that Mr. Clancy felt the need to resign, the fact that he placed the needs of the HRAC above his own is worthy of respect,” she said. “And I hope one day people see him for the great guy he can be as we all have the capacity to be. I think he’s grown from this experience and in the future has much to offer Red Bank.”
For the second time in recent weeks, Human Relations committee chairman David Pascale had asked for Clancy’s resignation, writing in a comment on redbankgreen that “his words fall far outside our committees basic principles. This last incident is extremely threatening to our school children.”
Pascale said he accepted the resignation, and told Clancy in another comment that “the reasons you give are the right reasons” for stepping down.
In an email to redbankgreen, committee member Kate Okeson expressed appreciation for Clancy’s resignation, “as the alleged communication and related incidents were becoming more of a focus than the objectives” of the HRAC.