Photo of noose won’t force him to quit

JACKSON — A Facebook post with a picture of a noose and a message that Mayor Mike Reina needs “a new necklace” doesn’t scare him and won’t force him out of politics, he said.

“It won’t change my direction. i do what i do I’ve been mayor here for 14 years. I understand that some of the things I’m going to do will not resonate and will make everyone happy,” the mayor told New Jersey 101.5. “But if you’re doing the right thing, as I think I’ve done honorably, I don’t think I should be afraid. When the time comes when I say I’m done, it should be of my own accord.”

What bothers the mayor is the threat against his 40-year-old daughter when she put up a campaign sign on Tuesday.

“A grown man in a black pickup slowed beside her, spat at her and yelled the C-word at her before speeding away. She came in visibly shaken,” Reina said.

Reina is a Republican whose party in the township is in the middle of a murderous war. Then there is the growing pain of the community as it recently faced lawsuits from property developers and state and federal attorneys who accused officials of animus against the community’s Orthodox Jewish population.

The mayor said that in his 16 years in politics he had never experienced such a toxic atmosphere at the local level, fueled in part by the internet. He finds some things scary.

“I think some people feel empowered behind a keyboard. They feel like this is their way of fighting. And it’s sad, because even though Jackson was always a fun silly slob during political campaigns, I never saw the animus that I’ll understand now. Blunt accusations, people pointing the finger, turning around and telling you that you are the reason for overdevelopment. I think it’s a whip, in every way imaginable.

Screenshot of a Facebook post showing a noose and comments addressed to Jackson Mayor Mike Reina

Screenshot of a Facebook post with a noose and comments to Jackson’s Mayor Mike Reina (Moving Jackson Forward)

Don’t be afraid of public life

For all the hostility and toxicity, getting Reina out of politics altogether isn’t enough. Disagreements are part of politics and Reina said he’s not a fan of President Joe Biden or Gov. Phil Murphy, but he remains civil.

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“I do not post images of nooses, which are a symbol of hatred that spans centuries. There is a line and that line is sacred. You never cross that line because they have nothing more than that. I mean that’s sad. Thats really sad. But we will continue. You know, we’ll keep going,” Reina said.

For his part, Reina promised to focus the rest of his campaign on the candidates and the issues without personal attacks. He asked the opposing candidate, Martin Flemming III, the chairman of the municipal council, to do the same.

Jackson police received an image of the post and are considering charges against the person who posted it.

Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

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