Roseland Mayor John Duthie announced to West Essex Now the resignations of Councilman Thomas Tsilionis and Councilman David Jacobs.
Tsilionis then contacted West Essex Now with the following letter:
Roseland, NJ 07068
Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017
To the West Essex Now Editor:
I have been proud to serve the Borough of Roseland as Councilman since January, 2010, and representing the residents of this great community has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It is with great gratitude, along with tears of sorrow, that I must resign from this position effective immediately.
I recognize that my recent text messages referenced in the Progress and Star Ledger were deemed inappropriate and I personally apologize to all I offended. When taken out-of-context, I can see that my texts would be seen as derogatory.
However, the texts do not speak to who I am: there isn't a racist or anti-Semitic bone in my body. Councilman Richard Leonard, who distributed a copy of the texts to the press, already knows that about me.
Councilman Leonard never told me or anyone else that the texts offended him, including Councilman David Jacobs who Councilman Leonard campaigned door-to-door with for seven months. Councilman Leonard went to the press not because he was offended, or because he thought that I was a racist or anti-Semitic, or because he thought it was the right thing to do.
Plain and simple, Councilman Leonard released the tests to the press out of his own personal agenda to attack Councilman Jacobs and me for not voting for him for Council President.
It is no secret that Councilman Leonard and I don't see eye to eye. I believe that Councilman Leonard wants to be a Councilman so that he can use the office for his own personal benefit and to benefit his real estate business that resides in our Borough.
As a Councilman, I have witnessed Councilman Leonard use his public office for his own personal gain by acting unethically and even possibly criminally:
- I have witnessed Councilman Leonard vote on items from which he should have abstained because he had a clear conflict of interest
- I have witnessed Councilman Leonard improperly participate in discussions and make arguments regarding those same matters when he should not have participated because he had a clear conflict of interest
- I have witnessed Councilman Leonard not support a redevelopment project in an attempt to secure free snow plowing of his Arcadia Realty parking lot
- I have witnessed Councilman Leonard participate in discussions and vote on personnel and union matters which affected his spouse who is a Borough employee, when he should not have participated and should not have voted on the matters
- I have witnessed Councilman Leonard criticize the Roseland Police Department and threaten to eliminate it through an Inter-local Agreement with another municipality
- I have witnessed Councilman Leonard debate sign ordinances although he himself has a business sign which does not conform with the Borough's rules
- I have witnessed Councilman Leonard argue for an affordable housing ordinance that would legalize illegal apartments in single family residences
- I have witnessed Councilman Leonard say that he hates the French and will never do business with a French owned company.
In short, Councilman Peter Smith's comments that Councilman Leonard is "off the reservation" is an understatement.
It is true that I didn't vote for Leonard as Council President in January and that I seconded the motion to nominate Council President Mark Vidovich. Based on what I know, how could I support Leonard to structure the agenda and lead the Borough Council?
Despite these challenging times, as I step down I am proud of my many accomplishments since January 2010, that I have made happen for Roseland, the town that I love. These are only a few of my accomplishments during my time serving on the Roseland Governing Body:
- I led the campaign against selling Old Borough Hall
- I requested that the Recreation Department move to Old Borough Hall to free up space for rentals. This action led to the long-term lease with the Arc of Essex which has generated tens of thousands of dollars in revenue for the Borough
- Using my technology background, I put Roseland on the forefront with the way the Borough communicates with our residents, and I also upgraded all of the technology-related systems
- I introduced the current water conservation ordinance that rewards residents who do not consume a large amount of water and saves them money
- I directed the updating of all the Borough's recreation facilities. Every field in Roseland has my fingerprint on it and the newly renovated Fernwood Field design is something that I brought forth and I am very proud of it.
- I led the acquisition of the Dockrell Property and I was about to focus on its initial design. I have spent a lot of time on the project and I’m saddened that I now will not be a part of its development.
As a community we need to move forward and put this behind us.