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Saratoga County Supervisors reject Siena grad's appointment to run animal shelter

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Albany/HV: Saratoga County Supervisors reject Siena grad's appointment to run animal shelter
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After a large public outcry, a 22-year-old recent Siena College grad will no longer become the supervisor of the Saratoga County Animal Shelter. YNN's Matt Hunter has more on why county supervisors rejected her appointment.

BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. – Of the nearly 30 members of the public who spoke at Tuesday’s Saratoga County Board of Supervisors meeting, Christina Abele was the last to step to the microphone.

"There has been so much attention lately, mostly negative and slanderous," Abele said.

At least two-thirds of the three hour meeting was spent debating Abele’s appointment to run the county's animal shelter. In the end, supervisors rejected the 22-year-old's hiring.

"We can't start a new chapter this way,” Saratoga Springs Supervisor Joanne Yepsen said. “It just isn't going to work."

A recent Siena College graduate, Abele was one of 62 applicants and had previously been approved by the board's personnel committee. That decision came under fire from many of the shelter's longtime donors and volunteers who believed Abele lacked the necessary experience.

"I think there were a lot of people that were overqualified for the position that were just overlooked," said Carol Lang, who founded the Busy Bones 500, a fundraiser for the shelter.

"I just couldn't believe that the supervisors were actually going to appoint somebody with limited experience," said Patricia Casey, a member of the Friends of the Saratoga County Animal Shelter, another fundraising organization.

Lang says her organization has donated more than $40,000 to the shelter over the past five years. She threatened to stop all donations if Abele’s appointment was upheld. She was one of more than 20 people who spoke against the hiring at Tuesday’s meeting. She believes the selection was politically motivated because Abele's father, Chris, donated $1,350 to local Republicans between 2005 and 2010.

"I just think it was a political appointment and nobody's going to change my mind on that," Lang said.

According to state and federal campaign finance records, Chris Abele has not made a campaign contribution since 2010.

Ten board members voted in favor of Abele, who previously volunteered at the shelter and setup her own adoption clinics. Several, including Halfmoon Town Supervisor Mindy Wormuth and Clifton Park Supervisor Anita Daley, insisted she was the most qualified candidate and the only who came forward with a detailed plan for the agency's budget. They're now tasked with finding a new person to fill that post.

"I know I was qualified and I know I would be a great voice for the county and the animals,” Abele said following the meeting. “I'm obviously disappointed with the decision but I respect the process."

While 10 of the 17 present supervisors voted in favor of Abele's appointment, six others were absent. Those were automatically counted as "no" votes.

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