Speaking publicly for the first time since a drunken incident made national headlines, Mahwah Mayor John Roth expressed “remorse and sincere sorrow” Thursday night and promised nothing like that would ever happen again.
“To my family, the event host, the township’s employees, town council and all the residents of Mahwah, I’m sorry. I let you down,” Roth said during a township council meeting at which a closed-door meeting was scheduled to discuss the possibility of a public reprimand.
“This problem is being addressed by my family and I to ensure there is no reoccurrence,” Roth said, reading from a prepared statement.
UPDATE: Following a public apology from Mayor John Roth for a drunken incident that made national headlines, the Mahwah Township Council recommended Thursday night that he undergo an alcohol assessment and receive counseling on township policies and anti-discrimination laws.
Council members agreed to discuss the matter in closed session with Labor Attorney Raymond Wiss once what was expected to be a lengthy public meeting was concluded. Wiss conducted an internal investigation of the incident and prepared a confidential report for the council.
The mayor took the brunt of some residents' wrath during the public portion.
Three of them called for an independent investigation instead of the one completed by Wiss. Two others said that Roth should resign.
Roth previously admitted that he was drunk when he removed his pants and passed out in a township employee’s bed during a Jan 10 house party.
The mayor had said in an interview that he’d had too much to drink that night and apologized to the employee but considered the incident a private matter, NorthJersey.com and the USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey reported.
That changed with Thursday night's public apology.
Daily Voice is withholding the name of the employee, who is identified along with her husband in an anonymous letter signed and circulated last week by "Concerned Employees of the Township of Mahwah."
In their letter to Roth, the employees said that news of the incident had "leaked out" and that the mayor's "considerable disrespect for township employees...threatens our careers and livelihood."
The letter cites "considerable discourse among the employees, accusations and threats of poor treatment of anyone suspected of leaking the story. It has already caused issues in the offices which make it nearly impossible to work collectively, because of your behavior."
The employees -- about two dozen of whom reportedly attended the party -- said they are "DEMANDING" (underlined) that Roth "apologize by email to the entire staff and gather all the employees together to make a public apology....Short of that you should resign your position."
If neither happens, the letter says, the employees "will file a hostile work [environment action] against you personally and the Township of Mahwah."
Roth admitted drinking too much, going upstairs and taking off his pants before climbing into the bed that night, according to the NorthJersey.com and the USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey report.
His wife then came to get him, it says.
Roth, who’d been a township councilman for 12 years and a school board trustee for five, became mayor two years ago after voters recalled Bill Laforet.
His seat is up for re-election this fall.
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