To the editor:
Last week, the Public Safety Committee of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors met to appoint an interim County Coroner. This was necessary because Dr. Andrea Coleman, a Democrat overwhelmingly elected last November, had to resign for personal reasons.
There were four potential candidates for this interim spot, two of which were supported by their County Parties. One was Bernadette Powis, a Democrat endorsed by the Columbia County Democrats, who is a retired licensed (Family and Psychiatric) Nurse Practitioner with the medical skills and availability to fulfill the responsibilities of this position. Another was Carmen Marino, a retired state police officer, who was endorsed by the Republican County Committee.
In a crowded room of supporters of Bernadette Powis for County Coroner, the Public Safety Committee nominated the County GOP pick, Carmen Martino and the full Board voted to appoint him until the election in November.
Despite requests, Ms. Powis, who was present in the room, was not allowed to speak. The reason those supervisors who spoke gave for their vote was that Mr Martino is a former state cop and has good criminal investigation skills and they all know him (emphasis added). “The lady” (Ms. Powis) might not be able to go out late at night by herself into questionable places and the cop (Mr. Marino) “had seen a lot of dead bodies”. (Paraphrasing)
When the voters elected Dr. Andrea Coleman over two male challengers, they apparently did not share these “concerns” about her safety at night, and in our opinion, voted for her clear medical qualifications. The Public Safety Committee and the full Board blatantly ignored the voters choice and a qualified equivalent, and instead voted as good old boys for the guy they knew. Some also expressed what seemed like a bias against a qualified female candidate.
This emphasizes the importance of local elections and using your vote and voice at every opportunity. We will again have the opportunity in November, denied last week by our elected officials, to choose the most qualified candidate for this position.