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Capital Region News

Flouting Masks “Final Straw” As Albany County Legislature Chair Seeks To Remove BOE Commissioner

Two high-ranking Albany County Democratic officials remain at odds over wearing a face mask in public.
Last week Albany County Democratic Election Commissioner Matt Clyne reportedly laughed when asked why he wasn't wearing a mask during absentee ballot counting at the Board of Elections. He was the only person in the counting area without a face covering. Clyne's attitude struck a nerve with County Legislature Chairman Andrew Joyce, who announced on social media he was interested in hearing from anyone applying for Clyne's position.

"In close proximity with county workers and members of the public and not using a mask, that was kind of the final straw for me and a number of issues that we've had with the Board of Elections. It's a critical time for open and fair elections right now. There's a lot of reforms taking place and we did we need to have our game straight in terms of what we're doing with elections and modernizing what we're doing, and this is just a recent, you know disappointment from the Board of Elections."

Joyce wants Clyne to step down.

"I've asked Mr. Clyne to either wear a mask or resign from his position at the County Board of Elections. I'd imagine some of my colleagues in the legislature will be joining me in that request. He's made it clear that he's not going to wear a mask and he's given some pretty irredeemably stupid excuses to not do that, that either echo, you know, or across ,you know, a number of folks that come up with excuses to not wear a mask. It's dumb and irresponsible and there's no excuses for it."

Clyne is not fazed.

"Quite frankly, I don't care. An his virtue signaling is less than impressive, let's just put it that way."

Clyne, who has been commissioner since 2008, told the Times Union he thinks it's unhealthy to wear a mask inside the BOE. The newspaper fired off an editorial critical of Clyne's stance.

Democratic Albany County Executive Dan McCoy agrees with Joyce that Clyne should wear a mask, something McCoy emphasizes at his regular COVID-19 briefings.

"You know the governor also is concerned about people not complying with the mask and social distancing. It's a huge issue."

Meanwhile, Joyce put out word he's shopping for a replacement.

"And I've made it clear that I'm not interested in reappointing Matt to that position. His term is up at the end of 2020. I'd imagine the County Democratic Committee will be accepting applications and talking about who they're going to interview, to potentially recommend to the legislature, to appoint to that position. I'm sure there'll be alot of very good qualified candidates for that position. I'd be very interested in appointing a woman of color to that position. We've never had a woman in the Board of Elections and it just, uh, I think we need to signal that we're making the right decisions and we're moving in the right direction in Albany County.”

Joyce says all applications will be considered.

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