After serving 13 months in federal prison for his involvement with an illegally conducted asbestos removal project, former carpenter John Chick plans to run for legislative office in Cayuga County, N.Y.
Chick, who was fired after violating the federal Clean Air Act while supervising the removal of an asbestos-contaminated boiler at the county Board of Elections building, is pursuing Auburn’s District 14 seat in the legislature. Chick says his criminal record has little bearing on his candidacy.
“It shouldn’t,” Chick said when asked if he was worried about his background influencing voters’ opinions. “I did what I was told to do and I am looking forward to the future.”
The ex-contractor launched his campaign on June 1, 2011, promising to draw on his experience as a county employee to bring change to operations such as out-of-county contracting. He had hoped to earn Conservative party chairman Greg Rigby’s official endorsement, but Rigby sided with Mike Didio.
Chick said his role in the asbestos removal incident may have influenced Rigby’s decision.
“It’s part of politics; it happens locally and around the state,” concluded Chick.
When Cayuga County placed Chick on administrative leave in 2006, it cited eight reasons for his termination, including refusing to provide abatement workers with proper safety equipment and lying to the employees about what asbestos was.
Asbestos, a carcinogenic mineral, can lead to the development of severe illnesses such as malignant mesothelioma when inhaled.
About 30 people who were exposed to asbestos during the process filed a class action lawsuit, fearing that such health complications might arise from exposure.
As the result of the incident, Chick was sentenced to pay a $108,000 fine and serve 15 months in prison. His sentence was reduced by two months for good behavior and he was released in June 2009.
Chick works as a self-employed contractor and makes monthly restitution payments to the county.