Lebanon Co. councilman makes racial slur on Facebook; citizens concerned

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RICHLAND BOROUGH, Pa. -- A councilman in a tiny town in eastern Lebanon County has sparked a controversy among its residents after making a racist slur recently on Facebook.

Travis Randler, a councilman in Richland Borough, commented on a Facebook thread on January 11, "What n***let do I need to talk to", using a slang variation of the n-word.

A screenshot was taken of the comment, and sent to Tania Ortiz, who lives in the borough with her husband and two children. Tania brought the comment to the attention of borough council at its monthly May meeting. The borough said they would investigate the matter.

"There's no reason someone should do this who's a leader of our community," Ortiz said.

Tania attended the next borough meeting on June 7, and asked for the results of the council's investigation. Richland Borough solicitor Thomas Harlan said the borough would not be taking any further action, saying to Tania, "While I think this bad, indefensible, and racist, it doesn't rise to the level they're talking about in the borough code."

The borough code is the Pennsylvania Borough Council Handbook, which states a council member can be removed from its board for misbehavior in office or from missing two consecutive meetings. Randler has not attended a council meeting since March. Council President Dennis Seldomridge, who is also Randler's uncle, told FOX43 he works night shift and his absences are excused.

Seldomridge refused to go on camera Thursday, telling FOX43 the issue with Randler is a "legal" one and was handed off to the solicitor, Harlan. However, no lawsuits are pending.

When asked if he had seen the video, Seldomridge responded, "I didn't see it. I don't care to see it," adding he thought it was a private conversation between Randler and his girlfriend.

Ortiz is part of a multi-ethnic family. Her husband is Puerto Rican, and her two children are mixed-race. She wiped away tears as she expressed anger with how she felt Richland Borough was not taking a councilman's racist comments serious enough.

"This isn't the way the world should be," Ortiz said.  "We're all equal. I had to explain to my son, who's autistic, what racism is, and it's very hurtful."