Bigotry Accusations Levied Against Garwood Candidate

By LAUREN S. BARR
Specially Written for The Leader/Times

GARWOOD – Last week, InsiderNJ.com ran an article noting congressional candidate and state Senator Tom Kean Jr.’s attendance at a fundraiser for Garwood Republican Candidates Joe Nicastro and Jesse Wilson. The article highlighted Facebook posts shared by Mr. Wilson and an account holder named “Jerome Biggums” that were posted in a Facebook group called “Cranford Uncensored.” The posts in the article depict a woman kissing a man’s foot, looters with the caption “mourning over the loss of George Floyd” and a photo of white people in chains with the caption “White Guilt – the new virus in America.” Since the posts came to light, social media erupted, and while the Garwood GOP continues to back Mr. Wilson, Senator Kean and Republican Freeholder Candidate Joe Sarno have called for Mr. Wilson to step off the ticket.

In an email to The Westfield Leader, Mr. Wilson denied that he is a white supremacist, racist, or homophobic, stating, “I’m not a racist, I find it completely absurd. I’ve been dating a woman of color for the last four or five months and these false allegations have put extreme stress in our relationship to the point where she is afraid to speak out or be seen with me. I take this allegation very seriously and will be pursuing a legal case against people involved. I am not homophobic. I stand against the sexualizing of children on any level. Kids don’t need to learn homosexual history, and young girls shouldn’t be losing scholarships to transgender boys. Leave the kids alone.”

Mr. Wilson was arrested in 2006, and plead guilty in 2007 to possession of over 50 grams and under 1 pound of marijuana with intent to distribute. He served 3-years of probation. “I have made mistakes in the past, I inhaled, and I got caught doing so, well over a decade ago when laws were much stricter. Nonetheless, it was against the law and I’m sorry for what I did. I learned from that mistake, I got into construction and started my own business, I bought a house and started my life. I moved forward with my life and made myself a better person. Isn’t that what life is about? None of us should be judged on our worst moment, but who we became after.”

Garwood Mayor Sara Todisco said in a letter to The Leader, “For those who think this is just politics. I assure you it is not. I will call out and stand against racism, bigotry, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and any other form of hate if displayed in Garwood. Sadly, we have seen other recent acts of hate in other nearby towns and their local leaders have spoken out. Garwood’s leaders will, too.”

Democrat Candidates Russ Graham and Vincent Kearney, who are running against Mr. Wilson and Mr. Nicastro, said in a letter, “Mr. Wilson has shown himself, through a litany of now widely shared social media posts, to be racist, misogynistic, homophobic and trans-phobic. This is not the Garwood we know, nor will we stand by and watch Garwood become any of these things or be painted with that brush by anyone, let alone a Council candidate.”

The Jerome Biggums profile depicted by multiple news outlets has been removed from Facebook as have the comments made by that account in the Cranford Uncensored group. Despite questions from multiple group users and now The Westfield Leader, Mr. Wilson neither confirmed nor denied that he was behind the “Jerome Biggums” account. He did tell The Leader that there are many Jerome Biggums accounts and that “Apparently my likeness has been used on one or several as has the Mayor of Garwood holding an assault rifle.”

When asked if any of this has changed his mind about running for council, Mr. Wilson told The Leader, “It has made me stronger and more resilient. Now more than ever I believe it is important for a regular guy like me to win and represent the people of Garwood.”

Mr. Wilson also said, “Tom Malinowski is a coward and liar. Tom Kean is weak, caving to the mob without notifying any of the Republicans in Garwood of their emotional and irrational response to the Leftist mob lies. Apparently these two men have too much to lose to openly speak the truth. Garwood Mayor Sara Todisco was just a pawn in their game. This is a very sad commentary on the leadership in this town.”

Mr. Nicastro posted a video on Facebook Thursday evening saying, “I want to make it 100 percent clear that I do not condone any type of racism or bigotry, nor do I tolerate dirty politics. … My mission will remain clear, I am for Garwood, and I am for the Garwood residents.”