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Ken Runion fears for his safety after name pops up on Web sites

An online political bout has led one Guilderland official to level charges of identity theft as election season nears, saying the events have led him to fear for his family's safety.

Guilderland Town Supervisor Ken Runion said that his name has showed up on 50 or more [Web] sites, and he and his wife are fearful of the implications.

He said people who are not "sophisticated" enough to know he is not responsible for some of the messages on the Internet might act maliciously against him.

"It makes me fear for my own safety," said Runion, a Democrat.

Runion also said he is "leaning toward" not running for re-election, citing the distracting nature of a campaign and the potential for more "Web wars," although no decision has been formally announced.

"I'm being bullied and badgered and attacked," he said, referring to a number of Web sites in his and the town's name that call his leadership into question.

Republican Councilman Warren Redlich, sponsors one of those Web sites, www.KenRunion.com. Redlich said he started the site to illuminate what he said was the "truth" about what goes on in the town of Guilderland.

"It's fact backed up with evidence," Redlich said. "[It shows] what he says about [issues] in one place, and what he says about them in another."

Runion, in response, has started the Web site www.TheRealKenRunion.com, which provides his take on town politics. He said he does not often use the Internet, but these are extenuating circumstances.

"I don't normally get involved with the Web. Right now it's just a total distraction, and I've got too many other things to deal with," Runion said.

Other Web sites, such as www.GuilderlandEnterprise.com and www.GuildlerandOnline.com that deal with town issues are also the sources of controversy. Online records show that Runion's name, address and e-mail account were used to create the sites, however, Runion maintains that his identity was illegally used to create them.

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