By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO January 4, 2002 By the end of 2001, it finally looked like the Sullivan County Legislature would be back at full strength. It had been a tumultuous year for the Legislature that saw vacancies arise in the District 9 and District 4 seats.
On December 6, after a heated debate and weeks of dissension among the legislators, Joann MacKinnon was appointed to the District 4 seat, representing Mamakating. MacKinnon was filling the seat that was vacated by her husband, Gordon, who died on October 9. The vote was 5-2 for her, with one abstention. MacKinnon was to be sworn in on Wednesday, January 2.
However, a press conference was called instead so that MacKinnon could turn down the nomination, citing emotional stress and health issues. Tears flowed as she spoke.
"Unfortunately, my heart is now broken," MacKinnon stated. "I have not had time to properly grieve for the wonderful man I have lost. I must take that time.
"I cannot tell you the emotional stress that I have been placed under by the threats, as reported in the newspaper. As a result of this added burden, my physician has recommended that I step back, temporarily, to regain my strength, she continued. To those who tried to intimidate me with threats, I can only ask God forgive you."
MacKinnon was joined at the conference by Legislature Chair Rusty Pomeroy.
"I am saddened that Joann will not be able to accept the nomination, he said. It is time for Joann to take care of herself now. She needs to get her strength and health now."
The Mamakating Democratic Committee had earlier chosen Jonathan Rouis to fill the vacated seat. Pomeroy indicated that Rouis would be appointed to that seat as soon as possible, with a swearing-in ceremony scheduled for this Tuesday.
MacKinnon stated that she may consider running for the seat in September. If she chooses not to run, her daughter, Barbara Magiera MacKinnon, might make a run herself.