After three days of debate, Lowcountry lawyer Catherine Templeton won the Senate’s approval Thursday, clearing the way for her to assume the top post at the state’s environmental agency, the Department of Health and Environmental Control.
The vote was 38 to 3 with Sens. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, Phil Leventis, D-Sumter and Joel Lourie, D-Richland voting no.
The three raised concerns about Templeton’s lack of experience, her unwillingness to move to Columbia from Charleston for the job and her initial reluctance to take the post as reasons for their no votes. Templeton has said she is capable of doing the job, that she wants the job and that she will commute.
Meanwhile, they pointed out that more qualified applicants were not given serious consideration.
“Why would we confirm someone who sets their own work rules?” Leventis said who filibustered against Templeton’s appointment for four hours last Wednesday. “Why would we accept someone who wants to run it by remote control?”
But Tuesday, several lawmakers came to Templeton’s defense including Sen. Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson, who said the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation -- that Templeton currently oversees -- is well-run.
“Every time our (Senate) committee ever needed any information, it came much quicker than from any other (state agency,)” Bryant said.
And at least one Democrat, Sen. Gerald Malloy, D-Darlington, changed his mind and voted for Templeton’s confirmation.
“I got a call from her a little bit ago and she said, 'I'm going to be there,’” Malloy said, referring to questions over whether Templeton will be at work on a daily basis. “And I have to take her on her word.”
Read more in tomorrow’s The State.