Hopewell Township Mayor Kristin McLaughlin began her mayoral term with a rebuke of a threat at her first meeting as mayor last Monday night.
McLaughlin discussed an incident she reported occured at last Thursday’s reorganization meeting, in which two members of the public approached her as they were leaving, and offered advice on how to be a “successful mayor” — advice that McLaughlin says ended with “and if you don’t, we will kill you”.
McLaughlin said she accepted the role of mayor to serve as a positive role model for her two young daughters, who attended the meeting.
“I brought my girls here tonight because I want them to see that their mother will not be cowed by a bully,” McLaughlin said. “What I get out of serving on this committee is simply the satisfaction of knowing that I stood up, did my best, and left the place we call ‘home’ in good shape.”
Throughout her remarks, the mayor repeated the phrase “we will kill you,” while noting that she explained to a police officer that she did not believe the threat was made with the intent of “true physical harm.”
“The threat, though, was clear, intentional, and very direct,” McLaughlin said. “If my vision of what is best for Hopewell Township doesn’t match theirs, I will be made to suffer.”
McLaughlin concluded her remarks stating that her vision “does not include threats against those who stand up to serve” and that she “will not tolerate abusive or threatening speech from anyone.”
The mayor did however invite “constructive, thoughtful, and forward-looking ideas, no matter how controversial” as well as “willingness to engage in dialogue for the benefit of the community.”
The meeting continued with the Committee entering an executive session to discuss an affordable housing resolution that ended with no formal action and was tabled until the next meeting later this month.
When the executive session concluded, members of the public voiced concerns about part of the resolution that would authorize the mayor to execute the redevelopment agreement “as the Mayor deems appropriate in consultation with the Township’s general counsel, redevelopment counsel, redevelopment planner and other Township professionals.” Hopewell Township resident Jon Edwards felt this gave the mayor “interesting” and “unusual” powers over the rest of the Committee members.
With no formal action taken, Edwards’ comment was noted with Committee member John Hart assuring the public that similar concerns were considered during the executive session.
The next Hopewell Township meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, January 22, with the meeting rescheduled from Monday to Tuesday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.