‘Hell no,’ mayor won’t quit over his ‘crisis actor’ Parkland post
NEWTON — Hell no, Mayor Wayne Levante says — He won't go.
The mayor of Newton declined a request made by the township council in a resolution Monday to step down as mayor because of "inappropriate and unprofessional behavior" by engaging in "conduct unbecoming of a mayor in his interaction with the public."
Levante, on his Facebook page, had shared a video calling Parkland, Florida high school Daniel Hogg a crisis actor hired to speak out about gun control. "No matter what side you are on regarding the gun control issue ... the corporate media is playing us," he wrote.
In subsequent posts on his Facebook page, he criticized a reporter he accused of taking his comments out of context. And in another post on the page page, he issued an apology:
"I want to again sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by the post that has created some of the recent drama. I also want to apologize to those families affected by this tragedy and to those parents who have ever lost a child. Those of you who truly know me know that I am not an insensitive person and would never respond in a hurtful way to someone who experienced a tragedy," Levante posted.
Levante, who is also a member of the council, responded "hell no" when it came time for him to vote on the resolution, according to the New Jersey Herald.
The newspaper said that 18 people spoke in favor of Levante, 13 spoke against him and six had no opinion one way or the other during the two-and-a-half hour meeting.
Levante's term is up on June 30; an election is scheduled for May 8.
After all of the other members of the board spoke against Levante during the vote, the mayor said the township needs strong leadership that he has provided.
"I will not resign," Levante said, according to the report.
The resolution, which also censured Levante, accused him of damaging the council's relationship with the board of education and portraying the town in a bad light because of his behavior.
Levante also said on Facebook he felt "hurt and betrayed" by the resolution but "I know you deserve better and will strive to do better and will work hard to regain the trust and confidence of my colleagues and you."
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ