ATLANTIC CITY — Appearing on a talk radio program Thursday morning, Mayor Don Guardian lost his patience with a caller, asking the caller whether he hates gay people and telling the caller he’s a bigot.
The exchange occurred between Guardian and former Atlantic City Republican Chairman Mark Padula during the monthly “Ask the Mayor” show with Harry Hurley on WPG Talk Radio.
The final caller, Padula, whom The Press attempted to contact by phone, started asking Guardian about a recent Planning Board vote.
Guardian, who as mayor has a seat on the board, grew irritated when Padula asked why the mayor didn’t abstain from a vote concerning parking at Flagship Resorts, an agency that has donated funds to Guardian’s campaign.
Guardian, after several minutes of back-and-forth, lashed out at Padula.
“You want to take me out for being mayor, but I am the best mayor, and you’re a bigot, Mark,” Guardian said.
Guardian was upset about a large outdoor sign that sits in Padula’s yard accusing Guardian of raising taxes almost 90 percent since taking office. The photograph shows Guardian with his husband and another gay couple, John Schultz and Gary Hill.
“You want to tell people that I’m gay,” Guardian said to Padula on the air. “I tell people I’m gay, bigot, you don’t have to do that.”
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Guardian tells Padula that voting on the Flagship’s parking matter wasn’t a conflict of interest, and Padula tries to repeat the question.
The mayor eventually tells Padula he needs to “get a life,” which Padula responded to by saying, “On Nov. 7, you’ll need to get a life.”
“Are you gay, Mark? Do you hate gay people, Mark?” the mayor continues.
Asked later about the exchange, Guardian said he stands by his comments and feels Padula often brings up his sexual orientation when it’s not something Guardian hides, he said.
Guardian added he disagrees with the lawn sign’s content, as officials announced a tax rate decrease this year.