FORT LEE - The residents of Fort Lee and Mayor Mark Sokolich himself responded to the news that three people were indicted for crimes related to the closing of three local access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee.
The lane closures caused nearly a weeklong traffic nightmare in the town in September 2013. It came to light Friday that the closures and traffic issues were retribution for Mayor Sokolich not endorsing Gov. Chris Christie in his 2013 gubernatorial re-election campaign.
"It was a punch in the gut to me to hear an individual plead guilty and subject them self to a potential jail term," says the mayor.
During the traffic problem, Mayor Sokolich repeatedly reached out to Port Authority Executive Bill Baroni looking for help with the issue. His calls, and messages were never returned. Baroni was one of the people indicted for the closures.
The mayor marveled at the fact that he would be subjected to any sort of political retribution.
"I didn’t sign up for this," Sokolich says. "I signed up to open little league fields and lower taxes. I signed up for dealing with budget issues and filling potholes."
Many residents in Fort Lee weren’t surprised about the indictments and say they just want to put the past behind them.
Along with Baroni, another Port Authority official, David Wildstein, was implicated in the crime. Wildstein pleaded guilty to the charges Friday and provided testimony. The third person charged was former aide to Gov. Christie, Bridget Anne Kelly.