Kearny dep. mayor to councilman: ‘You’ll get a punch in the face if we were in public’


Kearny Deputy Mayor Melanie Ryan took serious offense to 1st Ward Councilman George Zapata calling her “madame” at Tuesday’s town council meeting, exclaiming that “you’ll get a punch in the face if we were in public.”

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Ryan addressed the governing body at Tuesday’s meeting to air some grievances about department heads being able to submit resolutions until 4 p.m. on agenda meeting days – which start at 9 a.m. – therefore making it difficult to set the agenda.

“Ms. Ryan,” Zapata began before being interrupted.

“It’s missus not miss, thank you,” she replied.

“My apologies madame,” Zapata answered.

“Don’t call me madame ‘cuz you’ll get a punch in the face if we were in public!” she exclaimed.

She was then reprimanded for her remarks, to which said reiterated that she specified that would have been her reaction if they were outside.

In a statement, Zapata denounced the exchange, calling it clearly unacceptable.

“Threats between public officials undermine the foundations of our democracy and the rule of law. Such behavior is reprehensible and unacceptable as it sets a dangerous precedent for public discourse,” he stated.

“Unfortunately, this is an escalation in behavior that has been seen for years, prior to I being on the council. I strongly condemn and denounce this incident and any instances where public officials are threatened with acts of physical violence.”

Mayor Carol Jean Doyle, who was sworn in last month just before appointing Ryan and former Fire Chief George Harris as deputy mayors, said the short clip shared with HCV does not tell the entire story about what transpired at this week’s council meeting.

“I was saying you are out of order and both started speaking over me. The chief of police was in attendance, as he is in every meeting. I was reminded of the 1st Amendment and that Ms. Ryan did not take a step forward or attempt to leave the podium. The chief said had she done differently, she would have been escorted out,” she said in an email.

“This is the third time local residents have come before the council and belittled and yelled at sitting council members, myself included. The difference here is that she threatened to hit Councilman Zapata if he was out in public. I feel both were at fault adding insult to injury and both need to conduct themselves with some decorum when at a public meeting.”

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  1. Mr. Zapata clearly goaded Mrs. Ryan knowing he would bait her to respond in the manner she did. There is more to this altercation than meets the eye. I’ve known and worked with Mrs. Ryan for years and found her to be warm, polite and committed to the betterment of life in Kearny. I don’t condone her response we all must have cooler heads to play this game.