Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Disabled residents in S. Amboy, NJ, complain that community political forum held in inaccessible building

From NJToday.net:
SOUTH AMBOY, N.J. — Senior citizens and disabled residents complained that they were excluded from a community forum organized by a local newspaper and political supporters of mayoral candidate Mary O’Connor because it was held in a building that does not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“I wanted to go and I know a lot of them people who wanted to go,” said Margaret “Mag” McCarthy, who is a senior citizen confined to a wheelchair. “It would be hard for me to get up those stairs.”

McCarthy said she was unable to attend a candidate debate, hosted by Amboy Beacon publisher Bill George and former Republican Councilwoman Beverly Samuelson, which was seemingly designed to give the mayoral candidate a platform that put her on an even basis with frontrunners Democrat Fred Henry and independent Vincent Mackiel.

McCarthy and others who could not get to the second floor of the Sacred Heart hall building lodged protests with the New Jersey League of Women Voters and various government entities, but Samuelson dismissed those complaints.

O’Connor is a Republican running without party support as an independent while Mackiel has been endorsed by the local Tea Party organization.

While most of the elderly and infirm residents stayed away, one who labored up the stairway with her cane left feeling it was not worth the trip.

Former Councilwoman Irma Brown said the situation was disappointing because some voters really wanted to hear the candidates discuss their ideas and not just provide another venue for attacking outgoing Mayor John O’Leary.

Brown, who was O’Leary’s opponent in his first election as the city’s chief executive, is now supporting Henry because the city has made so much progress in the last 18 years.