In the weeks leading up to Election Day, controversy has surrounded former Town of Seneca Falls employee Ed Thurston, who’s running for highway superintendent, and current Town Supervisor Mike Ferrara. Thurston recently issued a statement to address allegations regarding his previous employment and detailed a contentious relationship with Ferrara.
While Thurston is running for highway superintendent, Ferrera is running for a second term as town supervisor. And with Election Day less than two weeks away – the claims outlined by Thurston have become central in both political races.
Editor’s Note: The entirety of Thurston’s statement can be read at the bottom of this article.
TIMELINE: Thurston details ‘hostile’ work environment
Thurston’s employment with the Town’s Water and Sewer Department began in November 2018. He alleges that beginning in 2020, Supervisor Ferrara began creating a hostile work environment for him, which intensified in the following years. At the crux of the controversy is Thurston’s claim that he was falsely accused of misreporting data on four separate occasions in 2022.
To counter this claim, Thurston says he took the matter to a civil hearing, where he faced the Town’s legal representation from the firm Bond, Schoeneck, and King. This representation raised eyebrows, as Attorney David Ferrara, the brother of Supervisor Mike Ferrara, is affiliated with the firm.
In his statement and during the hearing, Thurston detailed technical concerns about the equipment used in the Water and Sewer Department. He referenced the Hach DR900, a device responsible for logging water entries, and presented supporting documentation from its manufacturer. This documentation outlines ways data might not be saved correctly. Thurston emphasized that the integrity of Seneca Falls’ drinking water was never at risk during his tenure and said he had no reason to falsify records that would risk his employment and licensure.
He remains licensed through the state of New York.
Further escalating the tension, Thurston revealed a personal text message allegedly sent to him by Supervisor Ferrara on April 29, 2023. The message insinuated that Thurston’s position on the election ballot might be jeopardized and suggested that Town Board Member Kaitlyn Laskoski may be forced to resign.
Thurston has also provided voucher dates, showing Attorney David Ferrara’s involvement in town matters, which Thurston says highlights the conflict of interest given his relationship with Supervisor Ferrara.
Thurston concluded his statement by reiterating that he was not fired post-hearing but chose to resign due to the hostility he faced going to work each day. He remains licensed by New York State to work in water services, which he says shows the misreporting claims brought in 2022 were false.
RESPONSE: Ferrara responds with statement denying allegations
Supervisor Ferrara said that despite the desire to share more, he would have to refrain given the allegations leveled by Thurston.
He shared a statement regarding parts of the allegations outlined in the highway superintendent candidate’s statement:
“Mr. Thurston’s previous employment with the Town of Seneca Falls is [a] personnel matter and therefore it would be inappropriate for me to comment on his allegations. I will, for the record, state that Bond Schoeneck & King has been engaged as the Town’s external counsel for the past three years, which was approved by the full Board of the Town with a 5-0 vote each year. My brother is not an equity partner at Bond Schoeneck & King and did not participate in the hearing referenced by Mr. Thurston.”
At this point, no legal action has been taken by either side in the matter.
STATEMENT: Read the full letter shared by Thurston
“As we approach Election Day, I wanted to take the time to address the false allegations made against me by Town Supervisor Mike Ferrara and a few others regarding my previous employment while at the Town of Seneca Falls. My employment with the Town’s Water and Sewer Department began in November of 2018. Supervisor Ferrara first began targeting me in 2020 by creating a hostile work environment, only to have escalated over the years. The most egregious claim which inevitably led to my resignation, was being accused of falsely reporting data on four different occasions in 2022.
However, I strongly contested this allegation, so much so, that I took this further to fight in a civil hearing in which the Town appointed Bond, Schoeneck, and King as their legal representation, which happens to be the Town Supervisor’s brother Attorney David Ferrara’s firm. I further take issue with the fact that not only was the machine, a Hach DR900, that logs these water entries not properly updated, as well as never routinely monitored on a consistent basis to ensure functionality from user to user. I further have supporting documentation, which I attached below, from the manufacturer of the machine, Hach, used to test the chlorine, of which it cites various ways for data to not be saved. I would like to add that I not only completed these tests, but I also never once compromised the safety and health of the residents of the Town of Seneca Falls drinking water as alleged by Supervisor Ferrara and others. I have nothing to gain by falsifying records other than losing my job and my water license. I also drink and use the same water as well as my family and friends, so I would never intentionally do anything to jeopardize their wellbeing.
I am in possession of a personal text message from Supervisor Mike Ferrara that he sent on April 29th, 2023, threatening my position on the ballot for highway superintendent. This is what was wrote in the message which I still have on my phone for confirmation.
“For sure. My first suggestion is you learn how to spell. My second suggestion, everyone will now know officially why you resigned, as we all know because you were going to be fired with a large majority support of the board. Unfortunately, you have crossed the line, and now you have dragged Kaitlyn into the mess which will force her to resign. And, that will break my heart. And, I have fulfilled my legacy on life. Successful teacher, coach, principal. Member of 3 Hall of Fames. Accomplished more in 3 years plus than any recent supervisor. What is your claim to fame? You resigned because your sorry ass was going to be fired which should have happened 6 months ago. And, Kaitlyn voted to approve BSk as our employee and personnel attorney, because they are the best. My brother doesn’t handle the Town’s account. Stop in sometime and check out the invoices. Have a good vacation next week and when you come back, you may not be a candidate for highway superintendent. And, congratulations on your new addition to the family! Or, maybe that’s why we have an upcoming vacation?”
He states in the message that his brother Attorney David Ferrara from Bond, Schoeneck, and King, has no involvement in the town’s accounts after I had voiced my concern for failing to have a fair hearing as a result of his brother working for the same firm that represented the town in my hearing. However, if you look at some of the dates from the vouchers I pulled, which I have also attached below, you will see he has been actively involved in a number of personal matters involving the Town of Seneca Falls, creating significant conflict, particularly in circumstances such as mine when I have had numerous threatening messages from Supervisor Ferrara himself. Not only has he, as well as others, publicly slandered my name and reputation for what I believe to be the purposes of political gain, but it also ultimately led to my inevitable resignation from the Town this past year on April 14th, 2023.
I would like to end by saying not only was I not fired after the hearing, but I also decided to resign due to the ongoing hostility I was receiving in my workplace, knowing these things would continuously happen. I would also like to point out that I am still in possession of my water license issued by New York State. So, I then ask you the question, if I compromised the water of the residents of the town, would my license not have been revoked and would I not have been terminated as a result of it right away? I ask that you not only consider the sources, but do not fall prey into the political charades that go on in the town. Thank you.”