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Political strife felt in Sackets

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SACKETS HARBOR — In a surprising turn of events, former village trustee Mark A. Pacilio turned down the Democratic nomination for mayor during a party caucus Tuesday.

Mr. Pacilio said interference in the village race by town of Hounsfield Democrats caused him to withdraw.

“I learned about a number of things happening behind the scenes and decided it wasn’t for me,” said Mr. Pacilio, who is the chief of staff for state Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa.

He declined to name the party members involved and said he did not have specific details about what transpired.

“I’m disappointed in some of the folks in my party,” Mr. Pacilio. “This was not the outcome I was looking for but I feel good about the decision because I didn’t want to be put in the position where I have to run a different kind of campaign.”

Timothy W. Scee, Hounsfield town supervisor, said there was a misunderstanding about an ad hoc group established to help find Democratic candidates in the village and the town. He said the group, made up of about eight village and town residents, met three times in four months at various locations.

“We were just trying to find candidates to get some Democrats in there,” he said.

Mr. Pacilio said he was never informed of or invited to any of the meetings. Mr. Scee would not say who else formed the ad hoc group.

Mr. Scee said that in the past it has been difficult to find people interested in running, and that the listing of Democratic candidates running for all open positions for the village was the first time that had happened in several years.

Mr. Pacilio decided to drop out of the race during the second Democratic caucus.

The first caucus, which was held earlier in the summer, was invalidated by the Jefferson County Board of Elections at the beginning of August after an objection was filed by Robert Johnson, a Democrat who resides in the village.

“The Board of Elections was not properly notified as to the time and location of the caucus ten days prior to the caucus,” Democratic Commissioner Babette M. Hall said earlier this month.

During the first caucus, Mr. Pacilio was nominated for mayor and Cheryl M. Payne and Corry J. Lawler were nominated for village trustee.

Mr. Pacilio, who was planning to run against Republican Vincent J. Battista III for the position, said he sent in the notifications to the board a “couple of days late.” The caucus was rescheduled for Aug. 27.

“We thought Mark was going to run, but in the end he thought the Democratic Party was not supporting him,” Mr. Scee said. “We were glad to have a candidate run against Vince.”

Ms. Payne also withdrew from the race. She did not immediately return calls to her work phone and cellphone Thursday afternoon.

Of Mr. Pacilio’s and Ms. Payne’s decisions, Mr. Scee said, “We’re disappointed, but we respect their decisions 100 percent.”

Only Mr. Lawler remains. He was nominated for village trustee by Mr. Scee, according to Mr. Pacilio. Mr. Lawler is not affiliated with any political party. Thus, the only candidate nominated by the Democratic Party in Sackets Harbor is not a Democrat.

Mr. Scee said he would take responsibility for the latest episode in an election season marked by more political infighting than usual.

“If they want to blame somebody, they can blame me,” Mr. Scee said.

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