Last month, David Marucci was convicted of disorderly conduct, accused of cursing and using racial slurs over the prospect of African Americans buying the house next door to his.
Next month, Marucci stands a good chance of being elected to the Bristol Borough Council as a Democrat.
Not surprisingly, the NAACP is up in arms, calling on Bristol residents to "vote their values" at the polls Nov. 3 and organizing what it termed an educational rally last night at the borough hall.
"We just don't want that man in the municipal building," John Jordan, president of the Bucks County chapter of the NAACP, said yesterday afternoon.
Bucks Democratic leaders, meantime, are shunning Marucci from the fold. Sample ballots bearing Marucci's name will not be distributed in Bristol, county Democratic chair John Cordisco said, and Marucci might soon face sanctions banning him from future participation in the party.
"Everybody was pretty appalled" by reports of Marucci's behavior, Cordisco said.
Nonetheless, Marucci remains the Democratic candidate for Bristol's East Ward council seat. And in the strongly Democratic borough, having a "D" next to one's name at the polls can all but guarantee victory.
Marucci, 55, did not return a call yesterday seeking comment. His attorney, James Downey, said Marucci denies the allegations and has appealed his Sept. 9 District Court conviction to Bucks County Court. The appeal is scheduled to be heard Nov. 20 in Doylestown.
Marucci was charged after a June 17 incident in the 1200 block of Radcliffe Street, where he lives.
According to Robyn Trunell, a Realtor who serves as Borough Council vice president, she was visiting a vacant house next door to Marucci's when he loudly cursed her and warned her not to sell the house to blacks, using an obscenity and a racial slur in the process.
"He told me, 'It's over for you if you sell that house to . . . ,' " Trunell, 62, said yesterday. "Every time I repeat the story, I still find it hard to believe."
A Montgomery County man who was selling the house witnessed some of the exchange and corroborated her version in court, she said. "I had just gotten the listing for the house; this had nothing to do with politics," added Trunell, a fellow Democrat.
On Sept. 9, District Judge Daniel Baranoski found Marucci guilty of disorderly conduct.
Marucci "absolutely denied" Trunell's story, Downey said, and sought an appeal. "At this point, these are still only accusations. Why someone would want to stir the pot and hold a rally, I have no idea."
Jordan said that the NAACP, a nonpartisan organization, cannot ask residents to vote against Marucci. At the same time, he said, he wants to ensure that voters are aware of Marucci's actions.
"A lot of people don't read their local newspapers, and a lot of people go in and vote their party without knowing a particular politician has behaved badly," he said.
If Marucci is elected, Jordan added, "we will continue to come to meetings asking for his resignation. We are not just going to go away."
He also noted that Marucci is a licensed Realtor, and had sought the listing for the property next door to his. "It concerns us a great deal that he may have used his bigoted ways in his own real estate dealings over the years," Jordan said.
Marucci's Republican opponent, Lorraine Cullen, said she had not made the incident a part of her campaign, and declined further comment. Independent candidate Michael Gerenda could not be reached for comment.
Trunell, who is not running in the November election, said that Marucci "does not represent the Democratic Party or who we are. We are very diverse in Bristol, and that's one reason we love it."