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Friday, June 21, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Mayor Resigns Over Racist Anti-Obama Posts

West York, Pa. (CN) - A disgraced Pennsylvania mayor bowed to pressure to resign Tuesday, after coming under fire for posting racist statements about the Obama family on Facebook.

Now-former West York Mayor Charles Wasko made big news last month when he posted a photo of a family of orangutans on his social media page accompanied by the caption "Moving day at the White House."

He also made a post comparing First Lady Michelle Obama to an ape and made a reference to lynching, according to reports.

Calls for Wasko's resignation became louder after additional controversial Facebook posts were unearthed, one of which referred to President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton as the leaders of the Islamic State.

Another post involved a photo of Republican actor and noted Obama critic Clint Eastwood holding a noose, along with the caption "Barry, this rope is for you."

Wasko, a Republican, was initially defiant in the face of public outcry over his posts. He referred to himself the target of a "witch hunt" in an interview, during which he also insisted he would not abandon his mayoral post.

"The racist stuff, yeah. I'll admit I did that, and I don't care what people label me as," he told a television reporter in Harrisburg, the state's capital.

"I'm an anti-Obama and an anti-Hillary fan," he told CNN. "And I'm proud of that."

The West York borough council publicly denounced Wasko in early October, but could not legally force his ouster.

He finally offered to resign Monday, on the condition that borough officials consider some of his suggestions to replace a police chief who was on leave.

After a unanimous vote to accept Wasko's resignation, the borough voted in council president Shawn Mauck, a Democrat, to take Wasko's place.

"I am grateful to my fellow council members for taking decisive action to ensure that our borough's residents are represented by an elected official who seeks to unite the community," Mauck wrote in his first official statement as mayor. "I am confident that we can build on this unity and continue working to represent the needs of ALL of our borough's diverse residents."

"It was a privilege to have my colleagues appoint me," Mauck added in a telephone interview with Courthouse News.

A public Facebook account for Charles Wasko makes numerous references to his resignation, and is filled with right-wing memes praising Donald Trump and criticizing Obama and Hillary Clinton.

The frequent political commentary on the page included the orangutan "moving day" photo that led to his resignation , which was posted on June 18 with the caption "Not soon enough."

An attempt to contact Wasko for comment was unsuccessful, as his contact information could not be located online.

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