CLAVERACK — Columbia County Democrats gathered June 4 for the fourth annual Martin Van Buren Testimonial Dinner at the Columbia Golf and Country Club, where they honored Lee Jamison, Alice Wettach and the caregivers 1199 SEIU at Columbia Memorial Hospital.
One of the key aspects of the evening was the formal introduction of the full slate of candidates selected by the county Democratic Committee’s choice for countywide offices: Richard Koweek for County Court judge, former DA Eugene Keeler for district attorney, Peter Stoll for county treasurer, and incumbent Dr. George Davis for county coroner.
Jamie Larson, a reporter for the Register-Star in Hudson, introduced his mother and complimented the Democrats on their wise choice of an honoree. Ms. Jamison works with developmentally disabled clients at Camphill Village and COARC. She also heads the Democratic Committee in the town of Stuyvesant. She ran twice for town supervisor and came within 10 votes of victory in 2009.
In her remarks Ms. Jamison complained that public comment is stifled at Board of Supervisors meetings and asked “What kind of democracy is that? They say go to committee meetings, but if they were smart they’d let us give them ideas.”
Alice Wettach, who retired in 2010 from county Board of Elections, received recognition for her 10 years of service. A former Republican, she is a descendant of President Abraham Lincoln.
Speaking for the 600 CMH caregivers honored at the dinner, Kevin Novak, an x-ray technologist at the hospital for the last 28 years, told the Democrats, “It really does mean a lot that you people recognize us.” Standing with several of his colleagues from the hospital, Mr. Novak said he felt proud to be a member of the union and said he was happy with the new contract worked out between the union and hospital management.
Keynote speaker Dr. Steven Liebo, a professor of Modern International History and Politics at Sage Colleges, and a commentator on international affairs for WAMC Public Radio, spoke about the effect of global warming, and unprecedented climate changes on this area.
“Fear makes people unable to understand the science,” he said. “It isolates the people from international scientific opinion.”
“Government and the private economy can work together creatively in times of stress like now, and in normal times. The idea that government is the enemy of the economy is absurd,” he said. He described the current American government as part democracy, part plutocracy, a government by the wealthy. “The businesses and corporations understand this. They use their money to stop those who will get in their way.”