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Mayor quits after furor over Obama slur

Dave Keenan called for the resignation of Mark Nadeau at a meeting in Cobleskill, N.Y. Dave Keenan called for the resignation of Mark Nadeau at a meeting in Cobleskill, N.Y. (Peter R. Barbor/ The Daily Gazette)
Associated Press / July 22, 2010

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COBLESKILL, N.Y. — The mayor of an upstate New York village has resigned after he was secretly recorded using a racial slur that mocked President Obama’s campaign slogan.

Mark Nadeau told a meeting filled with protesters Tuesday that he was not a racist and was stepping down as Cobleskill mayor because the controversy was hurting his family. He also apologized for saying anything that stirred hostility.

“My family is number one,’’ Nadeau said. “Anybody who knows me knows I am not a racist.’’

The college and farming community near Albany has been in turmoil since the Cobleskill highway superintendent released an audio recording earlier this month. Nadeau, a white Republican, can be heard using the slur in a sarcastic play on the Obama slogan “Change.’’ Another town official can be heard using the slur to deride Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Protesters gathered in front of the fire department before the meeting, some carrying signs that read “Simply, morally, ethically wrong’’ and “Free Speech Does Not Justify Hate Speech.’’

The audience applauded when Nadeau quit.

“I commend him for doing the right thing for Cobleskill. He recognized the magnitude of his actions,’’ said Dave Keenan, a member of the Concerned Citizens of Cobleskill. The group was formed in response to the slurs.

Bill VanHandel, who said he’s been a friend of Nadeau for 13 years, said Nadeau was wrong to use the slur but should be forgiven. “Now we know he made a mistake. He’s apologized,’’ VanHandel said.

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