North York councilwoman to step down after crude remarks
Councilwoman Sandra Hinkle will resign from the North York Borough Council on Tuesday night in the face of backlash over her comments to a borough resident after Tuesday's budget meeting.
Hinkle told Christopher Wilhelm she would beat him with his prosthetic leg if he posted a video of Tuesday night’s council meeting online, though she insisted she made the comment in jest.
Wilhelm started an online petition Wednesday, calling for Hinkle’s resignation over her remarks, which set off a firestorm of online debate.
Hinkle said she regretted the comments she made after a heated budget meeting and will leave the council after being asked to resign by council president Vivian Amspacher. Hinkle said she will hand the council her resignation papers and would not be making any public statement at the meeting.
Hinkle said she will apologize to Wilhelm but not in a public setting.
“It’s kind of been a blessing in a way. Things are not very nice anymore in the borough with the council, with things that have gone on. (There’s) a lot of mean-spirited stuff going on,” Hinkle said. “I’ve threatened for months to quit, to resign, and this is just the catalyst, which is OK. I just hate that it’s had to go this way.”
On Tuesday: Wilhelm said he filmed the 2017 budget discussions at Tuesday night’s meeting to help those who could not attend stay informed but was met with hostilities from Hinkle.
While speaking to several North York Borough Council members in the parking lot after the meeting, Wilhelm said Hinkle approached him and said, “Next time, I’ll flash my (breasts) for you,” in reference to his filming.
Hinkle confirmed that she told Wilhelm she would flash him and that she would beat him with his prosthetic leg if the video he filmed ended up online, but she maintained the comments were not meant to be threatening.
Wilhelm, a volunteer with the Liberty Fire Co., lost part of his leg in 2010 while battling cancer.
Hinkle said she had been involved with the fire company for more than a decade and had made and heard similar comments during their time together at the department, but this time, things were “blown way out of proportion.”
“Chris didn’t feel threatened,” Hinkle said. “He didn’t feel threatened. Do I look like I’m big and strong enough ... that I’m going to tear somebody’s prosthetic leg off?”
When reached Wednesday, Wilhelm said he started the petition because he feels Hinkle deserves to face the same consequences for her comments as former West York Mayor Charles Wasko did for his racist comments.
“I really just want her to step down because her professionalism wasn’t there at all, hasn’t been there,” Wilhelm said. “We’re trying to better North York. This is not only keeping us from focusing on the real tasks, but it’s hindering the relationship between the council board and the citizens.”
Wilhelm said he has suggested several possible replacements.
“North York absolutely has the people to do this job,” Wilhelm said.
Previous incidents: North York Borough Councilman Bill Jackson said Hinkle has a pattern for this type of behavior and also has accused Hinkle of making comments that were sexually explicit in nature.
After getting into an argument with Hinkle at the borough office three months ago, Jackson said he went to the door to cool off, at which point Hinkle got close to him and asked, “Why can’t we get along? If I rub my (breasts) on you, would that make you feel better?”
Jackson said he felt her comments qualified as harassment and called Northern York County Regional Police to have the incident documented. However, Jackson said, he declined to press charges against Hinkle for the incident.
Hinkle’s behavior and demeanor “creates a hostile and intimidating work environment,” Jackson said.
Former North York Borough Councilman Richard Shank said Hinkle gave him the middle finger at multiple meetings during his time on the council. Shank said “she’d be smart if she’d step down.”
Removal: Mayor Jerry Duncan said he was informed of the confrontation on Wednesday morning and was aware that Wilhelm “took pretty serious offense” to Hinkle’s comment, “given her position and responsibility as a councilperson.”
“Obviously, I think an apology would certainly be in order, not just a face-value apology, but a sincere apology, because those words would have certainly been hurtful,” Duncan said.
There are ongoing problems and “bad blood” between Hinkle and other council members because of previous incidents, Duncan said.
The North York Borough Council will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the North York Borough Office, 350 E. Sixth Ave.
When contacted Thursday, Wilhelm said he was pleased to hear news of Hinkle's imminent resignation.