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Troy City Councilor Heard Using N-word On Voicemail Resigns


An embattled Troy city councilor has yielded to calls for his resignation after he was heard using the “n-word” on an old voicemail.

In late January, Troy Mayor Patrick Madden called for the resignation of 2nd District Republican councilman Mark McGrath after the Times Union published a transcript of a three-year-old voicemail in which the councilor used the n-word. 

Madden, a Democrat,  condemned "the use of hateful and racist language" contained in the voicemail.

McGrath initially told WAMC he didn't remember leaving such a message:   "For the mayor to come out now and make this political, I'm feelin' bad enough. If I resign it'll be on my terms, not the mayor's terms."

McGrath reached out and made apologies, but apparently it wasn’t enough. He submitted his resignation Monday morning, citing family and health as having had a hand in the decision.

Republican City Council President Carmella Mantello:  “This morning, I received and other council members received councilmember Mark McGrath’s resignation. Per the city Charter, the city council is to fill the vacancy. I'm proposing a nonpartisan committee of seven folks two being councilmembers, one from the majority, one from the minority, five residents from District 2, from councilmember McGrath’s district. And hopefully a diverse number of folks. So no more than seven. I plan to propose that at this Thursday's council meeting."

Mayor Madden issued a statement: "We respect that this was a difficult decision for Mr. McGrath, and wish him the best."

McGrath did not return a call for comment from WAMC Monday.

Mantello intends to pick up the pieces and press on with her proposal.  "I'm not sure if the majority will support this, but I am hoping that they will support a non-partisan approach. They obviously have to vote, but I am hopeful that they support this approach. I think it's important for District 2, and I think we need folks from District 2 to assist us in filling that vacancy, so hopefully it will pass this Thursday, and we'll move expeditiously forward to fill the vacant seat that councilmember McGrath has recently vacated.”

Already being mentioned for the seat: Cindy Barclay, the Democrat McGrath narrowly defeated during the 2017 election. Barclay said in a statement to WAMC: “I hope that the resignation of Mr. McGrath proves to be a step in the right direction for healing our community. I’m honored to be considered for the position, but I don’t intend to seek an appointment to the council.”

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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