A New Jersey mayor has announced she won't seek re-election after she received a threatening letter in the wake of the unsolved killing of a local councilwoman in February.
Sayreville Mayor Victoria Kilpatrick revealed at a Borough Council meeting April 10 that she will leave office when her term ends after having served on the council for a decade and as mayor since 2020.
“It’s a hard decision for me, because I believe so passionately in this town, but I love my family more than anything in the world, and sometimes a good leader knows when it’s time to step down,” she said, overcome with emotion.
Kilpatrick said a concerning letter was sent to her and received and opened by clerk staff members.
“That letter was so heinous that it had to be immediately turned over to authorities in order to be processed for forensics and so forth to find out where it originated from. I never saw the letter. I had it read to me” by the police chief, she said.
She paraphrased the contents of the letter to NBC New York as saying: “More of you crooked, corrupt, ‘insert racial slur’ politicians either need to follow, should follow, or I can’t wait until more of you are ...” she said while gesturing her hands in an open manner.
NBC News has asked Kilpatrick for further comment.
Kilpatrick revealed during the council meeting this month that she's no stranger to “nasty” and “borderline threatening” letters and messages but that since the fatal shooting of council member Eunice Dwumfour on Feb. 1, “I’ve received even more disgusting comments.”
Dwumfour's death has left the borough of Sayreville, a community of about 45,000, on edge. She was found in her vehicle with multiple gunshot wounds near her home.
The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office said Wednesday there are no updates in Dwumfour’s case and that the investigation is active.
Kilpatrick said she has been troubled about the safety of the borough's political leaders, as well as for her own family.
“Am I concerned about all of our safety? Absolutely I am,” she said at the council meeting. “Am I concerned for my family? Yes, I am. You have a woman that was seated right here to our left that is murdered, gone, in cold blood shot, killed, we don’t know why yet.
“When politics becomes something that you’re worried about for your safety, you have to ask yourself, is it worth it?” she added.
Ultimately, she decided to leave office after she spoke with her two teenage daughters, NBC New York reported.
“They sat me down and they said, 'Mommy, we don’t want you to do this anymore,'” she said.
At the council meeting she also spoke about increasing security at Borough Hall, where the council meets, and having uniformed officers present during sessions. She asked the police department to conduct a security assessment of all borough buildings.
"I've got at least 11 more meetings to be a real pain in the a--,” she said with a laugh at the council meeting. “And to hold people accountable and try to implore everyone up here to do what’s right.”