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New Jersey mayoral candidate accused of making racist comments on voicemail

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The former head of Belleville’s planning board was discussing proposed changes to the New Jersey town’s tax rates before Councilwoman Marie Strumbolo Burke’s purported comments on the tape, according to Mayor Raymond Kimble, right, who is running against Burke in the town’s upcoming June election. (BellevilleNJ.org)

A New Jersey mayoral candidate has reportedly been caught on tape using a racist epithet, saying she didn’t want her village to become a "f------ n-----" town.

Marie Strumbolo Burke, a longtime councilwoman in Belleville, has repeatedly denied allegations that her voice can be heard on the background of a voicemail left on Councilman Kevin Kennedy’s answering machine. A Michigan forensics lab, however, has determined with “85 percent” accuracy that the voice is Burke’s, NJ.com reports.

“This is terrible,” the woman says as the 90-second message concludes. “This is terrible. This is gonna be a f------ n----- town.”

The former head of Belleville’s planning board was discussing proposed changes to the town’s tax rates before Burke’s purported comments are heard on the tape, according to Belleville Mayor Raymond Kimble, who is running against Burke in the town’s upcoming June election. Kimble has said he will call for Burke to resign.

Burke did not immediately return a message seeking comment from FoxNews.com on Wednesday. But in an email to The Star-Ledger, Burke accused Kimble of dirty campaign tactics.

"What’s even more troubling than her making those statements is her continually denying it."

- Mayor Raymond Kimble

“I am outraged and I am ‘100% certain’ that Kimble’s fingerprints are all over this report,” Burke wrote. “We don’t need to pay thousands of dollars to a laboratory to prove that these false accusations lead right back to Kimble.”

Kimble, meanwhile, vehemently denied that counter-accusation when reached by FoxNews.com. He said he received the tape in October, but isn't clear when the phone call was placed. The answering machine had been turned over to Primeau Forsensics Lab in Michigan last week. The lab’s director, Edward Primeau, found that Burke’s accent and pacing was identical to the voice on the recording.

“It’s her,” Primeau told NJ.com. “It’s the same person. Her speaking style, her pacing. The delivery of all the words spoken in both samples are identical.”

But Primeau acknowledged that the voices could only be ruled as “100 percent” identical if Burke were to read the statements made on the phone call aloud for comparison.

"They're very upsetting," Kimble said of the report's findings, which were released Monday. "What’s even more troubling than her making those statements is her continually denying it. She’s been confronted by numerous people about it during town meetings.”

Kimble accused Burke of trying to "reverse the blame" for the recording to work in her favor.

"It's definitely unfounded," he said of Burke's allegations. "The tape speaks for itself. It's something that shouldn't be said by anyone, but for a politician to say it ... and we're such a diverse community. How could we trust anything else she says if she's denying this so bitterly?"

Fox News' Joshua Rhett Miller contributed to this report.