PITMAN, N.J. (CBS) — Social media posts have come back to haunt two newly-elected leaders in South Jersey. The excitement from Tuesday’s election has quickly worn off after controversial posts were found from New Jersey state senator-elect Edward Durr and Pitman’s newly-elected councilman Vincent Kelly.
“It’s disgusting. I hope he gets kicked out of office. I mean, what will happen now,” a woman named Lisa said.READ MORE: Shooting In Southwest Philadelphia Leaves 4 Men Injured, Police Say
Shock and condemnation in South Jersey after not one but two newly-elected officials in Gloucester County are thrown back into the spotlight for what they’ve reportedly done or said in the past.
“It surprises me that he could get that far on an election and have that not come out before now,” Lisa said.
Lisa’s referring to Vincent Kelly.
The Republican and his running mate bested two incumbent Democrats to win seats on the Pitman Borough Council Tuesday night.
But on Friday, calls for him to step down came as a blackface picture resurfaced.
“It’s pretty shocking, but our goal is not to cancel him, it’s to educate him,” Judy Walker with the Pitman Anti-Racist Collective said.
Pitman Anti-Racist Collective says Kelly shared the photo on his Facebook page. They say it shows him dressed as Flavor Flav for Halloween, wearing makeup to darken his skin.
“White folks used to dress up as a minstrel to mock Black people, to exaggerate comedy, to laugh at them. So we take it very serious and it does hurt,” Loretta Winters with the Gloucester County NAACP said.READ MORE: Temple University Student Samuel Sean Collington Killed In Off-Campus Shooting In North Philadelphia
We tried to speak with Kelly but our calls and attempts at his home were unanswered. Kelly has since taken the picture down.
“It’s unacceptable and it shouldn’t come from our elected officials,” Winters said.
Winters says this incident, along with the recent news surrounding Durr, shows a troubling trend.
“It tells me that the homework was not done, the homework and the research on the candidates were not done,” she said.
Durr, who defeated State Senate President Steve Sweeney, is under fire for a series of posts including, a 2019 tweet that referred to Islam as a “false religion” and “a cult of hate.”
“I’m dealing with some stuff. I’m asking you to give me a couple days, alright?” Durr said.
He was unavailable Friday but has since apologized, saying he is passionate and sometimes says things in the heat of the moment.
“Has he made a mistake in the past? Absolutely. Does it define who he is? Absolutely not,” Gloucester County Republican Chairperson Jacci Vigilante said.
Durr is expected to meet with Muslim leaders next week. The NAACP says they would like to sit down with Kelly.MORE NEWS: 'The Whole World Is Going To See It': Art From Nebinger Elementary Students To Be Featured On National Christmas Tree
Kelly released a statement and apologized for attending a Halloween Party as Flava Flav on Saturday.
“In 2008 I purchased and wore a Flavor Flav costume to a Halloween party where guests were expected to dress as a celebrity. At the time Flavor Flav’s yelling of ‘yeah boy’ made him incredibly popular, wearing the costume was a celebration of his fame.
“Years later I briefly used the picture as a cover photo on my Facebook page during the Halloween season, changed the picture after the season and frankly forgot about it until recent events.
“I do understand that we live in a very different time and today, even as a celebration of one’s fame, I would not even consider wearing a costume that included blackface. I apologize to anyone who may be hurt by my costume choice of years ago and will soon reach out to the Pitman Anti-Racist Collective so we can hopefully schedule a meeting and have some open, honest dialogue.”