A recent Facebook post by Hasbrouck Heights' incumbent mayor has sparked contention.
"Thank you to the citizens of Hasbrouck Heights for your support," said Jack DeLorenzo after defeating Councilman Christopher Hillmann in the mayoral race.
"The family values of our town have prevailed. Keep Heights great."
Some say DeLorenzo's post is a homophobic jab at Hillmann, who is openly gay, while others say it's being misinterpreted.
Neither Hillmann nor DeLorenzo (who ran for Bergen County Sheriff in 2018) were immediately available for comment when Daily Voice reached out Monday evening.
"It’s so disheartening seeing all of these posts that are trying to twist words," Cait Garney wrote. "The Delorenzo’s are the nicest most INCLUSIVE family. Stop this smear campaign."
NJ LGBTQ Dems chairperson Lauren Albrecht, however, called DeLorenzo's statement a "homophobic dog whistle."
"By [DeLorenzo] saying that he represents family values or that they won when he won, the obvious question is: 'What do you think about your opponent that doesn't also fall in line with family values?'" Albrecht said.
"[Hillmann] hits all of these points except for being married to a woman. He's a brother, a son, a husband, an uncle, an incredible friend, public servant. He's a seasoned veteran of New Jersey politics, a college graduate, a member of the community."
Albrecht clarified her organization serves to maintain visibility and representation.
"If a republican won the election and a democrat said this about them, I would also call it for what it is.
"It's unfortunate for homophobia and standing up for equality are opposite and have become a partisan issue."
Deanna Dorsey Ketschke questioned why DeLorenzo's comment was being interpreted as an offense to the gay community.
"I have many gay friends who also have family values," she wrote. "This backlash to Jack is ridiculous.
"Jack and his family are very kind people that will go out of their way to help anyone."
Hillmann's husband Patrick McCluskey accused the mayor of deleting one of his comments on the thread.
"Classy as usual," he said, "any tactics necessary. I am your constituent too, and my opinions are equally valid."
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