Former NCPR news director joins Canton council

Martha Foley Smith speaks during an event at St. Lawrence University in 2019. The Saratoga County native was appointed to Canton Town Council last week, filling the vacancy left by former Councilor Karin S. Blackburn’s resignation and subsequent appointment as town clerk. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

CANTON — A longtime north country resident and journalist has joined Canton Town Council by temporary appointment this week, filling the vacancy left by former Councilor Karin S. Blackburn’s resignation and subsequent appointment as town clerk.

During the town’s annual organizational meeting Wednesday, Councilors Robert J. Washo, Timothy J. Danehy and James T. Smith voted to appoint Martha Foley Smith to the fourth council seat through Dec. 31, 2021.

Supervisor Mary Ann Ashley said the town was approached by four people interested in filling the vacancy, and “the board did take that into consideration.” Ms. Blackburn submitted her council resignation Dec. 21, and Ms. Ashley first made the resignation public in a Dec. 23 news release.

Not yet sworn in, Ms. Foley Smith participated in Wednesday’s virtual meeting as a community member and said she hopes her appointment will be “an asset and not too much of a deficit.”

A Saratoga County native, Ms. Foley Smith reported for the St. Lawrence Plaindealer for five years after her 1974 graduation from St. Lawrence University. She then joined WSLU — now North Country Public Radio — as a morning host in 1981, and helped found the station’s news department. With NCPR for nearly four decades and serving as news and public affairs director, she retired from her post in July 2019.

“I appreciate the other three folks who stepped up, their names were passed along to the board as requested,” Mr. Washo said. “I also want to especially thank Martha for stepping forward and making herself available. I look forward to working with her.”

During the public comment period at the top of the agenda, town resident and former Canton Recreation Director John S. Taillon told Town Council he is “very disappointed in the lack of transparency and obvious ramrodding of your own agendas and not listening to the people who voted you into office.”

Mr. Taillon said he reached out to Ms. Ashley and Mr. Washo, the deputy supervisor, on Dec. 21, inquiring about “what needed to happen to be considered” for the open seat.

“The response I received was, ‘I am not able to answer your question at this time, the board will need to discuss this at a future date,’” Mr. Taillon said. “Well to this date, there’s been no public outreach by the board looking for interested persons. So it’s pretty obvious you already had someone lined up when the resignation of the previous person was submitted. The people of Canton deserve better.”

The seat now filled by Ms. Foley Smith will be on the November ballot for a two-year unexpired term, to complete Ms. Blackburn’s original four-year term she was elected to serve.

Three other seats — the four-year terms of Ms. Ashley, Mr. Danehy and Mr. Smith expire in December — will also be on the November ballot for town voters.

The town’s regular meeting this month is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday over Zoom.

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(1) comment

rdsouth

Yes, at least make a show of it.

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