FILE PHOTO: West York Mayor Shawn Mauck (Courtesy of the York Daily Record)
(West York) -- Tensions flared between residents and elected officials during a West York meeting Monday night as they bickered about the old borough building being leased as well as other decisions made in the past.
At one point, the use of the "n" word to illustrate a problem prompted a state official to walk out of the meeting.
It started when a resident told the elected officials that not many people attend the meetings to see what's going on, and it might be because different sets of rules exist for the borough and the residents. The residents don't feel like what they have to say is important.
At a West York borough meeting, Mayor Shawn Mauck used a racial slur while describing the discrimination that some residents have been facing. State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, who was at the meeting, stood up and left after the comment. York Daily Record
Council president Mary Wagner responded that it's important to her, and everyone has a right to speak.
Mayor Shawn Mauck continued, saying they are trying to do the best they can. In the last 18 months, things have been changing. It might not be what everyone wants, but they are trying to do something different. He said they have to get beyond the past for a new future.
He started to share about a young woman whose family has been treated "like crap" for the past 10 years. "Her children are called n------ and far worse, OK, so we're trying to do the right things ..."
State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, who was at the meeting for a presentation for the council, abruptly stood up to walk out. "Sorry Carol," Mauck said.
"No, you can't apologize for that," she responded, leaving the presentations on the council table.
Mauck continued that they are trying to do something different to protect people who "for far too long have been treated with utter disrespect." He said his children, too, have been targeted.
Mauck stepped out of the meeting in an effort to catch up with Hill-Evans, but he later said he didn't get to talk with her.
Hill-Evans, reached later by phone, declined to comment.
A short time later, the council took a five-minute break so people could cool down. As accusations flew, one resident walked out after he was told to leave.
Former mayor Charles Wasko was among the residents who aired complaints during the meeting.
Wasko came under fire in 2016 when word spread of several posts on his public Facebook page, which were described as offensive and racist. News of the posts garnered international attention. Members of the public and lawmakers ranging from his fellow council members to Gov. Tom Wolf urged Wasko to step down. Mauck eventually replaced him.
After the borough council meeting, Mauck became emotional as he talked about how the racial epithet is "beyond hurtful" and "nobody, nobody should have to tolerate it." He said he has met other residents who face it.
He talked about how the borough has agreed to offer space to the York City Human Relations Commission, which is charged with preventing discrimination.
Mauck said as many as six families have been dealing with the racist comments. One resident is moving out for that reason.
He also said other residents have been treated badly because of their sexual orientation or religion.
He said they are trying to help people who are really hurt. When the human relations commission moves in the building, officials will be able to take them to someone right in the building.
He said he was sorry that Hill-Evans had to be present for the discussion, but "it's one we have to have."
"We have to change what is going on here," he said.
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