Uniontown treasurer blocked from taking office sues for racial bias

A council member allegedly said that he didn't want "this colored girl" as treasurer

Antoinette Hodge (Credit Facebook)

A city official in a Pittsburgh, Penn. suburb of Uniontown has filed a lawsuit against the same City Council that she is now a part of.

Treasurer-elect Antoinette Hodge was elected as the first African-American City Council treasurer in Uniontown, Penn. But this accomplishment didn’t come without a little drama first.

Hodge is alleging the Uniontown City Council denied her seat in office because she is Black. She’s giving credit for her denial to the city clerk and a City Council member that she believes conspired together to withhold her from getting the required insurance bond to take office, according to Pittsburgh Action News 4.

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Under Pennsylvania law, some elected officials have to fulfill the requirement of being bonded. Hodge says the bond was denied because City Council member Martin Gatti, said a racist comment to the bonding company.

Hodge’s attorney, Joel Sansone said, “This councilman told the bonding people ‘this colored girl’ shouldn’t sit as the treasurer for the city of Uniontown.”

“It was like, you’ve got to be kidding me, because by now you would figure people are over that. We’ve had a black president,” Hodge said.

This alleged chain of events led Hodge to file a federal lawsuit against the city of Uniontown, Gatti, and Gatti’s sister-in-law, City Clerk Kim Marshall.  This lawsuit was filed on Wednesday, the same day the bond was approved.

By Thursday, the city solicitor said, Hodge will be able to take office, according to Pittsburgh’s Action News 4.

“This is the most blatant form of ignorance that I have ever seen or heard of in my 50-plus years of living,” Pennsylvania NAACP President Kenneth Houston said, at a news conference about the lawsuit.

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Gatti released a statement on Wednesday, responding to the lawsuit, saying: “I did not nor have I ever made a political or professional decision based on race. I had every right to follow up on her bond status and whether or not all the facts were provided when the (bond) company found out that information had been withheld.”

City officials said the only way a bond is denied if Hodge has a poor credit score rating. Hodge said she was once the victim of identity theft, and if negatively affected her credit rating. However, this didn’t stop her from initially getting approved for the bond.

“It was about race. It was not about my credit because if it was my credit, the bond never would have been issued in the first place,” she said.

Hodge is set to be sworn in on Monday.