West York mayor skips vote to formally censure him

Written by Emily Previti, Keystone Crossroads Reporter | Oct 4, 2016 5:18 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.

(West York)_Calls for one York County mayor to resign will continue unanswered, at least for now.

Embattled West York Mayor Charles Wasko skipped last night's Borough Council meeting, the first meeting since public outcry began over his racist Facebook posts.

The meeting did, however, draw a standing-room-only crowd that applauded when council voted to formally censure Wasko.

Demonstrators started lining up across from Borough Hall more than an hour before the meeting's start armed with signs. There were oversized neon-yellow flyers circulating, printed by Borough Council to urge the ousting of their own colleague.

Others were homemade, like one showing Watsko's face with a red line through it.

That was hand-crafted by 53-year-old Lisa Zortman-Gross, who's lived in the borough her entire life. 

"You drive down King Street that way, you'll see a massive confederate flag aging in front of the house. You go, you have a beer with your friends and half the people in the bar are making really inappropriate comments, and I mean, you just feel horrible. Today, I really felt like, to say I have to say something I have to be here," she said. 

The takeaway from the 150 or so people who showed up that night, from the dozens who spoke for nearly two hours, combined, was they want Wasko to go, and reject the attitudes reflected on his Facebook page even though they acknowledge broader problems with racism in the borough and surrounding area.

Calvin Spears has lived in West York for nine years.

"What I have a problem with is the mayor attempting to dehumanize the president, who's an African-American, which means he's attempting to dehumanize me who is an African-American," Spears said.

He continued:

"As elected officials, you're a public servant, you're representing every one of us. You're going to (tax) us and utilize those funds. I have to question, if you think I'm less than human, I'm not important and I shouldn't get the same rights that other people do, (why) you're taking my money."

Residents from the bordering municipalities of York City and Manchester Township also were part of the crowd, which erupted in applause when council voted to censure Wasko.

He wasn't there and didn't respond to attempts to contact him, but told the Associated Press he's the victim of a "witch hunt."

The borough will mail Wasko officials documents asking him to resign.

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