UNIONTOWN, Pa. (KDKA) – On Monday, Antoinette Hodge, an African American, was supposed to be sworn in as City Treasurer of Uniontown.
But that did not — and still has not — happened.
She accuses certain city officials of racism, and on Wednesday she filed a federal lawsuit to get her job.
“I was shocked at first because I never expected anything like this would happen,” she said at a press conference at the office of attorney Joel Sansone.
At a Uniontown city council meeting on Monday, Hodge was denied the chance to take her oath of office, even though she had defeated the incumbent treasurer in the primary and won the general election.
“We are asking a federal judge to install my client into the position that the people of Uniontown elected her to fill,” said Sansone.
“This case is about racism.”
According to the lawsuit, Hodge alleges that Councilman Martin Gatti intervened to get her state-required bond as treasurer revoked at the last minute, alleging a poor credit rating, but Hodge says the real reason is her race.
When she called the bonding company asking why her bond was suddenly revoked, she says personnel were blunt.
“When the supervisor called her, he asked Antoinette the same question, are you white or black? And she once again answered that she was black. He then responded that defendant Gatti had referred to the plaintiff as the ‘colored girl.’”
It’s a charge Gatti strongly denies.
“I have never been accused of anything like that in my life,” Gatti declared on Monday at council.
“Finances are finances. I don’t know how race got in this.”
Whether racist or not, Hodge wants both her elected position and compensation to prevent this from ever happening to anyone again.
“Every lawsuit involves how to recover the damages that you suffered,” says Sansone.
Late Wednesday afternoon, KDKA political editor Jon Delano spoke with the Uniontown solicitor, Tim Witt, who says the city disputes the lawsuit, particularly as it relates to race.
But he said that Antoinette Hodge — once he, as solicitor, sees her new bond just issued — can get sworn in by any judge or district magistrate she wishes at any time she wants.