TRENTON — After coming under fire for asking the city's Latino business administrator if he could speak English, Councilwoman Robin Vaughn hit back at the criticism.

During a discussion about federal coronavirus funds, city Business Administrator Adam Cruz asked Vaughn if she was finished with her lengthy question so he could answer, according to coverage by The Trentonian of the meeting.

Vaughn said she was done and as Cruz began his response Vaugh interrupted and asked "do you not understand English?" according to the Trentonian.

Vaughn added that she didn't like his disrespectful tone. Cruz continued with the meeting after pointing that he spoke English in addition to Spanish and Italian.

Vaughn stands her ground

Gov. Phil Murphy in a retweet of a news story about her comments said Vaughn's “xenophobic comments are an affront to our core values of diversity and inclusion, and I condemn them in the strongest possible terms.”

Vaughn on her Facebook page asked residents not to be distracted and said she is "anti-corruption, anti-status quo, unbossed and unbought."

"I am not anti-gay, anti-Semitic, anti-Latino," she wrote.

She also hit back at the governor's criticism and accused him of inaction over unemployment, police brutality, systemic racism in the New Jersey legislative process and the lack of Black males on his senior staff. She also accused Cruz of calling Trentonians "stupid."

"You heard one comment that a duly elected Black woman voiced out of frustration with a member of the mayoral administration and you find it more important than all of the above that you post it on social media. I hope Black Trentonians will remember come November," Vaughn wrote.

Trenton Councilwoman Robin Vaughn and Mayor Reed Gusciora

Latest conflict with Trenton's mayor

Mayor Reed Gusciora defended Cruz as "one of the most accomplished and professional members of city government. He doesn’t deserve to be treated like that. No one does."

"Latinos are an important and growing part of the very fabric that makes Trenton special. Yet time after time, Councilwoman Vaughn casually insults individuals on the basis of race, sexual orientation, language, and religious affiliation. This is a city grappling with many critical challenges, all of which require Trenton’s community – one of the most diverse in the state – to work together for the common good. This is no place for that level of discrimination. Not now, not ever," the mayor said.

A resolution supported by Vaughn calling for Gusciora to step down over corruption in his administration failed on Tuesday.

During a council meeting in May 2020, she called Gusciora a pedophile. The mayor in response called Vaughn "radioactive" and an idiot. Vaughn later apologized but refused to step down despite Murphy and New Jersey's two U.S. senators calling for her resignation.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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