Sole Democrat assigned to one committee
History tends to repeat itself in Putnam County, at least when it comes to appointments to county legislative committees.
Since 2019, when she joined the Legislature, Nancy Montgomery has asked to serve on the catch-all Health, Social, Education and Environmental Committee and the Protective Services Committee, given her career in health care, emergency services and government.
Four times her colleagues have said no.
Montgomery, the sole Democrat on the otherwise Republican, nine-member Legislature, represents Philipstown and part of Putnam Valley.
In her first year, Montgomery was named to the Personnel Committee and the Economic Development and Energy Committee. Then, in February 2021, after the annual appointment-making occurred, away from public view, the Personnel Committee no longer included her.
That made her the only legislator limited to a single committee. The others were assigned to two or three committees each.
This week, it happened again.
Montgomery’s latest request to serve on the Health and Protective Services committees went nowhere. She received no additional appointments but was reappointed to the Economic Development and Energy Committee.
At the Legislature’s annual reorganization meeting on Jan. 4, Montgomery repeated her desire to join the Health and Protective Services committees. She renewed her plea on Jan. 20 in a letter to Legislator Neal Sullivan of Carmel-Mahopac, the Legislature’s new chair, who makes the appointments.
In it, she explained that her background includes, as a member of the Philipstown Town Board, successfully advocating installation of a used-medicine safe drop-box for Philipstown; establishing and funding the town’s addiction resource coordinator position; and ensuring that local ambulance corps carry naloxone (an overdose antidote); and that, as a member of Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s area staff, she dealt with health care issues.
Further, said Montgomery, she has managed group homes for the developmentally disabled and handled case management; been a volunteer ambulance corps member; trained as an emergency medical technician; worked as a 911 dispatcher; undergone advanced training from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in disaster preparedness and response; and organized Philipstown’s Emergency Operations Center during Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, when the county Bureau of Emergency Services could not reach the area.
Given that record, and what she termed the county’s “erratically managed COVID response, bizarre methods of disaster preparedness and response, and complete lack of organized incident-management,” she told The Current Tuesday that county officials “are clearly doing a disservice to the people of Putnam by not appointing me to the Protective Services and Health committees.”
An email to Sullivan on Thursday (Jan. 27) asking for the reasons Montgomery was not named to her preferred committees drew no immediate response.
However, according to Montgomery, earlier this week Sullivan told at least one curious resident (who then alerted Montgomery) that “such qualifications that Legislator Montgomery is talking about might be positive should a person desire to become an EMT or ride an ambulance; however, they don’t necessarily translate into making one the right legislator for a certain committee. Legislators make policy and financial decisions.”
Audit & Administration
Joseph Castellano (chair)
Budget & Finance
Neal Sullivan (chair)
Economic Development & Energy
William Gouldman (chair)
Health, Social, Educational & Environmental
Amy Sayegh (chair)
Paul Jonke (chair)
Carl Albano (chair)
Ginny Nacerino (chair)
Rules, Enactments & Intergovernmental Relations
Toni Addonizio (chair)