Selinsgrove school director Dr. Jennifer Rager-Kay and her husband, Snyder County public defender Peter Kay, both resigned their positions Wednesday, two days after Rager-Kay apologized for a Facebook post threatening to shoot anyone who comes near her family without a mask.
Both cited threats they've received in the wake of Rager-Kay's Facebook comments being made public for their decisions to leave their public positions.
On Monday, Rager-Kay, a school board member who last year unsuccessfully ran as a Democrat for Fred Keller's state House seat, apologized for a Facebook post addressing protestors against the state restrictions who do not wear masks.
The post said, in part, “I find it interesting that the largest group of those protesting in the anti-lockdown protest and refusing to wear masks in public as they see it as a violation of their constitutional rights are those against any form of gun regulation. As a conceal carry permitted gun owner, if you refuse to wear a mask and try to come within six feet of my family, I will exercise the same constitutional rights to shoot you.”
The post and media coverage of it has been widely shared. She and Kay blame Snyder County Chairman Joe Kantz for publicizing Rager-Kay's Facebook post that generated the threats.
In a letter sent to Selinsgrove Board president Dennis Wolfe, Rager-Kay, said, "As a result of a post placed on social media, I have received threats against my personal and professional well being that with great sorrow have compelled me to submit this letter of formal resignation from the Selinsgrove Area School District Board of Directors. For a position I am honored and passionate to serve, this is no easy decision and l feel it necessary to explain.
"This private social media post, that Snyder County Commissioner Joe Kantz elected to capture and share, has confirmed the state of affairs that prompted me to post it in the first place," Rager-Kay wrote. "Our society is so divided and entrenched with the 'you vs. me' selfish mentality, that we fail to recognize the level of hypocrisy this represents. Someone approaching me or my family not wearing a mask while in the midst of a pandemic, and refusing to back off if asked, represents a potentially deadly threat. Those who carry their rifles to rallies and protests speak so passionately about the right to personal defense, are the same ones now attacking me for boldly asserting that I would meet a deadly threat with deadly force."
In his lengthy resignation letter to the commissioners Wednesday afternoon, Kay said he and his wife are being "inundated with harassing messages and e-mails from people threatening to come to our home to challenge our commitment to the safety and health of our family — people who were stoked into action by the chairman's crass political opportunism. I am saddened that it has come to this, but I no longer feel safe in the Courthouse, and most unfortunately, my home is now threatened.
Kay was appointed to the $55,000 public defender position last June after serving as an assistant public defender for 2 1/2 years.
In an interview with The Daily Item, he cited "the stress" of the coronavirus pandemic for his decision to leave a beloved job.
"I'm married to a medical doctor and I get good advice," he said, adding that "the appearance of a very flippant attitude makes it untenable."
Kay cited Snyder County Sheriff John Zechman's public statements about not enforcing state orders restricting non-life sustaining business amid the health crisis and what he perceived as the county commissioners' failure to follow best practices to ensure the safety of essential workers.
Kantz declined to comment on the reasons Kay cited for his departure.
"I'm sorry to see him leave," he said. "I think he did a good job and people in the courthouse like him."
District Attorney Michael Piecuch called Kay's resignation "regrettable. He is a fine attorney."
"I'm terribly disappointed. My entire career has been in public service," said Kay who will continue his private law practice.