by Keith Laing, The Hill Newspaper
The mayor of a city that was targeted by the members of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) administration with bridge lane closures in an alleged act of political retribution said Thursday that it is “premature” for Christie to visit to offer an apology.
Speaking during a press conference after Christie finished a marathon media session of his own, Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich (D) said it was too soon for the governor to travel to his city to make amends.
“An apology today, coming on up today, might be a bit premature, because I have a distinct feeling there’s going to be another press conference, or another two or three or 12 after this,” Sokolich said.
Christie’s office is accused of closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge, which connects New Jersey to New York and is the busiest bridge in the U.S., in retribution for Sokolich declining to endorse his bid for reelection last year.
Christie said Thursday he was planning to travel to Fort Lee after the conclusion of his press conference to apologize to Sokolich and his constituents.
The mayor said he was not trying to be disrespectful to Christie, but he thought it would be better for the governor to wait on his Fort Lee trip.
“He would be welcomed with open arms. We would view it as an absolute honor, there’s no question about that,” Sokolich said. “However, and I mean this as respectfully as possible, I’m not trying to sound callous. It’s not disrespectful in anyway. It’s not designed to be. I’m not shunning the governor. It’s just that I just think there’s so much that is going on here.”
Sokolich had previously said in national television interviews on Wednesday evening that he did not want Christie to apologize to him personally.
“You’ve got to reach out to the folks that were impacted; don’t reach out to me,” Sokolich said on CNN Wednesday night. “I think he has to publicly address the folks that are specifically impacted by this. I think apologies need to be doled out. And I think reforms have to be put in place to make sure that this never happens again.”
Christie announced during his press conference on Thursday that he was firing a pair of aides who were involved in discussions with state transportation officials about closing the bridge lanes.