For the first time since he came under fire for tweeting about a Parkland school shooting survivor, the mayor of Waterville, Maine, is speaking publicly about his future.
Republican Mayor Nick Isgro called a press conference Monday morning to outline his accomplishments in office.
It was a little more than a month ago that Isgro tweeted "Eat it, Hogg" about Parkland student and gun control activist David Hogg. The tweet was referring to Hogg's spat with Fox News host Laura Ingraham.
The latest news from around the state
About 900 Waterville residents signed a petition to initiate a recall election, scheduled for June 12. Dozens have spoken out against Isgro, saying his social media history has a pattern of offensive and inflammatory statements, including posts about Muslims, refugees and the Pope.
Early absentee voting for the recall election began Monday, the same day as the mayor's press conference.
"There's a great deal of anxiety weighing on the hearts of many Waterville residents," said Isgro. "It's time to move forward, and continue writing our story."
Isgro spoke about economic development and cuts to spending. He called the recall efforts a "distraction" and said city councilors hoped he would be removed from office so they could raise taxes and avoid his veto.
"The city council is looking at a 12 percent property tax increase," said Isgro. "This is unacceptable."
In a lengthy Facebook post, Isgro accused city officials of "quietly" working on a budget to raise taxes, but City Manager Mike Roy and Council Chair Steve Soule issued a statement Monday calling the mayor's accusations "false."
The statement read that the budget has been through a public workshop process, and it is still going through revisions.
Roy said the city is facing a revenue shortfall, and tax increases have been proposed.
"That [shortfall] is the main culprit behind a tax increase — not some Council conspiracy to remove anyone from office," the statement read.
Reporters attempted to ask the mayor about his budget claims and use of social media, but he left the press conference quickly without taking any questions.