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Gov. Wolf wants West York Mayor out over "reprehensible, shameful, and racist" posts

Written by Emily Previti, epreviti | Oct 5, 2016 8:38 AM
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Lisa Zortman-Gross, 53, of West York, was among about 150 demonstrators at the first borough council meeting since public outcry five days prior began over Mayor Charles Wasko's racist Facebook posts. Council voted to formally censure Wasko and local officials say they're exploring legal avenues to remove him from office. (Emily Previti/WITF)

(Harrisburg)_An embattled York County mayor has been resisting calls to step down in the wake of public backlash over racist Facebook posts.

But now Governor Tom Wolf is joining in.

Through his spokesman, Wolf deemed West York Mayor Charles Wasko's actions "reprehensible, shameful and racist."

"This kind of bigotry has no place in society, let alone government," said the governor's spokesman Jeff Sheridan in an email.

Wasko should resign immediately, Wolf says.

The governor's statement comes nearly one week after the York Dispatch first reported Wasko's social media activity, which quickly met public outrage and calls to step down from fellow local elected officials in West York and neighboring communities including Kim Bracey, the first black mayor of the City of York.

On Monday night, before a large crowd of about 150 people, Borough Council voted unanimously to censure and remove Wasko.

Wasko never showed up for the regularly scheduled meeting and hasn't responded to Keystone Crossroads/WITF's attempts to reach him. But the Republican mayor has continued to update his Facebook page.

The most recent activity relates mainly to national politics, including some posts supporting Donald Trump and others criticizing Hillary Clinton, as well as one linking to his interview with ABC-27 during which he said other borough officials should be resigning instead. He's also told the Associated Press he's the victim of "witch hunt."

In Pennsylvania, state lawmakers are empowered to initiate removing local officials from office, which Sheridan says would be supported by Wolf, a Democrat.

But whether Wasko's social media activity amounts is grounds for removal as supported by the state constitution and existing caselaw is unclear at best, according to legal experts.

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