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(Photo by Candace Braun)

PROTEST AT DRUMTHWACKET: A small group of protestors gathered outside the governor's mansion in Princeton Township on Monday to show concern for his present course of action. Gov. McGreevey announced last week that he is gay and had an extramarital affair with another man. He plans to leave office November 15, but some residents say that isn't soon enough.

Princeton Reacts to McGreevey's Resignation

Candace Braun

After the initial shock of hearing Gov. James McGreevey's announcement last Thursday that he is "a gay American" and had engaged in an extramarital affair with another man, Princeton residents and area government officials have had varying opinions on their governor and his decision to resign on November 15.

On Monday, a group of 10 Princeton-area residents gathered in front of Drumthwacket, the governor's mansion, to protest his decision, which rules out a special election in November.

With news circulating that Israeli Golan Cipela, a former homeland security advisor, had an affair with the governor and is now preparing a sexual harassment suit against him, some residents feel that Gov. McGreevey was operating a "corrupt government," said protestor and Princeton Township resident Michele Seas.

While not identified as a group from a specific political organization, protestors had a blunt message for Gov. McGreevey. "Get out of our house," "It's the corruption, stupid," and "Let New Jersey Vote: Resign Now" were among the signs that residents displayed to oncoming drivers, several of whom honked in agreement.

"The bottom line is that there has been corruption and that's why we're angry," said Susan Pizzi, a protestor who lives in Montgomery. "If he did have a sense of character he would step down now. No one cares about his sense of lifestyle, that's not the issue here."

Township Mayor Phyllis Mar- chand said she believes the governor should be allowed these next few months to meet with his successor, State Senate President Richard Codey, to go over the work that he has done and to discuss what policies he had intended to introduce.

"I think Gov. McGreevey has done some good things that are now being colored by issues of integrity," she said, pointing out that New Jersey is now one of the leading states in stem cell research.

Borough Mayor Joe O'Neill, whose daughter is gay, also said he doesn't see a reason for Gov. McGreevey to leave office before November: "I'm not in favor of him leaving office now ... I see no reason to rush it."

Both mayors observed that there wasn't enough time before November to appoint candidates from either party.

Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes, a Democrat, said he feels that Gov. McGreevey has always done what he felt was best for the state of New Jersey while in office: "I've known him for a long time and I feel he is very accomplished and I hate to see him [resign], but I do think it's what's best for him and his family."

Congressman Rush Holt, who just returned to the country on Sunday, was unavailable for comment.

Princeton Township resident and GOP Congressional Nominee Bill Spadea said that "while the family should be allowed to deal with this privately, the public has a right to know how deep this scandal runs."

He compared the governor's recent actions to a "tide of corruption, scandal, and mismanagement."

Princeton University President Shirley Tilghman declined to comment.

Although some residents are concerned with the impact of Gov. McGreevey's decision on New Jersey politics, others in the gay community are troubled by how his "coming out" coincided with his resignation. Members of Princeton University's Pride Alliance said they felt that the governor leaving office after declaring that he is gay could reflect poorly on the gay community.

"I feel that the focus of [Gov. McGreevey's] resignation will be on his coming out, rather than on issues of political patronage," said Jessie Weber, co-president of Pride Alliance. "It would be really unfortunate if Americans were led to believe that he had to resign because he is gay."

Ashley Rook, the other president of Pride Alliance, said that the governor is going through a difficult time and deserves the public's sympathy in matters of his personal life: "Realizing and coming to terms with one's homosexuality can be difficult for anybody... Having a family and being a well-known politician is not going to make it any easier. I hope Gov. McGreevey is able to work everything out with his family as best he can."

While the governor continues to be encouraged to leave office before November 15, he is currently standing his ground to remain for three more months.

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