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Prominent Saratoga Democrats Support Republican As Allegations Swirl In Public Safety Race

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Less than a week before Election Day, allegations have surfaced in the race for Saratoga Springs Public Safety Commissioner. As WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports, several prominent Democrats are not supporting the candidate who will appear at the top of the ballot.

On Friday afternoon, several letters were published on Facebook, on a page called Moving Saratoga Forward, a group that has supported conservative candidates.

The letters were written by a woman named Stacey Faville addressed to Kendall Hicks, the Democratic candidate for Public Safety Commissioner.

Faville, of Johnstown, served seven years in prison after pleading guilty to use of a child in a sexual performance in 2010.

The Facebook group raised questions based on the content of the letters surrounding the character and history of Hicks and his relationship with Faville.

In a follow-up statement in which she acknowledges writing the letters while incarcerated, Faville writes “The implication that Mr. Hicks was a ‘pimp’ based on private letters is reprehensible” and said her words were taken out of context.

Speaking with WAMC Wednesday morning, Faville said she wrote the letters to Hicks but said he had no knowledge of them. Faville, who declined to speak on tape, confirmed writing the statement attributed to her that was sent to WAMC by the Hicks campaign.

Asked by WAMC about the allegations and the letters from Faville, Hicks claimed they were stolen from him by an ex-partner. Hicks said he supported Faville when she was released from prison and that he was “the only person that gave her a chance.”

“I’ve been a friend to her the whole time. And if that’s a crime, then I’m guilty of that. But that is all that I’m all that I’m guilty of. I didn’t do any of what she did. I was not involved in any of what she did, and she will tell you that herself,” said Hicks.

Hicks also defended himself regarding a July report from the Times Union that detailed a 2013 encounter with police in Gloversville, when he was charged with assault and reckless endangerment.

“It was a case that was dismissed. And the parties involved moved on.”

Hicks was not endorsed by the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee in his bid for the open commissioner post. Committee chair Sarah Burger said she did not know about any of the allegations until after petition signatures were submitted.

“I don’t know who knew what and when, but I can say that the Democratic Committee did not know about any of this until it was too late,” said Burger.

Several prominent Saratoga Springs Democrats this week announced their support for Hicks’ Republican opponent, Robin Dalton.

In an emailed statement from Dalton’s campaign, support came from Mayor Meg Kelly, former Commissioner of Public Safety Chris Mathiesen, and incumbent Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan — all Democrats. Here’s Madigan:

“I have heard about the allegations regarding Kendall Hicks, and I do believe at this time he is not the appropriate person to run the Department of Public Safety as a result. Now, these are only allegations but my feeling is that this is not the appropriate office for him as a result of these potential allegations, and I don’t know yet whether they’re true or not, but we don’t have time to fully explore that at this time,” said Madigan.

Narrowly defeated by Patty Morrison in a June primary, Madigan is running for a fifth term on the Working Families, Independence and SAM Party lines. Dalton will also appear on the Independence and SAM Party lines.

Madigan says she thinks Dalton is the “best qualified” person for the job.  A group of Democrats that includes former leadership of the City Democratic Committee that supports Madigan over primary winner Morrison says it is not involved in raising allegations against Hicks or supporting Dalton.

Dalton, who did not respond to a request for comment in time for this broadcast, said in the campaign release in which she received the endorsement of the Democrats that she is “honored to have earned the endorsement of these distinguished city leaders.”

Also not endorsing Hicks is Dillon Moran, who is running on the Democratic line for Commissioner of Public Works. A member of the city Democratic committee before and after the leadership shakeup, Moran said no allegations against Hicks were brought to the committee.

“This information was not made available to us. And as such, when you find out about it after the fact, it’s really disappointing. And as such, I talked to [Hicks] directly. I was not satisfied with the answers I was getting, and so I chose at that time to disassociate myself with his campaign,” said Moran.

Another who withdrew support for Hicks is Democratic county supervisor for Saratoga Springs Tara Gaston, who is running for re-election.

“I do know that I was concerned enough with how he dealt with the allegations with me, that I chose to withdraw my support because I…I don’t want to put my name and my support behind someone that I cannot trust 100 percent,” said Gaston.

Hicks repeated to WAMC that he did not seek an endorsement from the city’s Democratic Committee, which he described as being in turmoil following its change in leadership.

Committee Chair Burger said the committee has a “crazy situation” on its hands related to the Public Safety race in which the committee did not endorse any candidate. She said she intends to examine changing the committee’s bylaws and how it handles primary elections after the November 5th election.

“Because as the Democratic Party continues to grow in Saratoga Springs, I think we’re going to see more primaries. We will become a city of primaries, more like a bigger city like Albany or something. I think that’s the direction in which we’re headed,” said Burger.

Hicks calls the election the “most contagious” and “most crazy” thing he’s ever seen in his life.

“It’s just a shame that we could not run our campaigns on the issues and what’s important to the citizens of Saratoga,” said Hicks.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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