BARBARA SHELLY

Three cheers for the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J.

Updated: 2014-01-14T23:44:34Z

By BARBARA SHELLY

The Kansas City Star

So is anybody going to come out of this Chris Christie bridge closing scandal looking halfway good?

Well, yes. I nominate Mark Sokolich, the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J.

This man has been a profile of decency throughout the saga. He was on the case from the day that Port Authority workers set up cones on the George Washington Bridge and turned his town of 25,000 citizens into a restive parking lot. Sokolich was all about getting answers, trying to get the problem solved.

He dismissed rumors that the traffic jam was retribution for his reluctance to endorse Christie’s run for governor, telling people that, in the scheme of things, he wasn’t all that important.

When more persistent and adamant reporters and political foes uncovered incriminating evidence that people close to Christie were indeed responsible for the closings, Sokolich got mad for all the right reasons.

Asked about Christie’s intention to apologize to him, Sokolich vented to CNN:

“Do me a favor, don't call me, but call the families who were waiting three, four times longer for emergency services when their loved ones were having heart palpitations or when their loved ones had extreme chest pains and were waiting for our ambulance corps to arrive,” he said. “Do me a favor, call and apologize to thousands of families whose kids were late for the first day of school and the three or four days that ensued thereafter. Call our police department. Call our administrators in the school system that had to deal with this. Call the folks that had to deal with traffic Armageddon that week. Don't call me.”

Later, because he is a class act, Sokolich met with the governor and accepted his apology. He never made the situation about himself, or tried to exploit it for political gain.

This is a mayor, according to the Newark Star Ledger, who makes his cellphone number available to every resident of his city. He coaches kid’s sports and is on call 24-7. While the staff of the prospective presidential contender was causing big problems, Sokolich was quietly trying to get them solved.

To reach Barbara Shelly, call 816-234-4594 or send email to bshelly@kcstar.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/bshelly.

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