By Joe Mahoney STAFF WRITER
The Daily Star
---- — Sensing a political opportunity in the wake of Otsego County Treasurer Dan Crowell’s move to leave office at the end of this year, the county GOP has now officially tapped Cooperstown Village Treasurer Edward Keator Jr. as its candidate for the post.
Because it’s too late for mainstream party candidates to circulate nominating petitions for this year’s election, Keator, 50, of West Oneonta, will run under the banner of the “Common Cents” party, and will appear on the ballot if the Republicans can help him garner 1,000 signatures by Aug. 20.
The Democrats have already embraced Acting Treasurer Henry “Russ” Bachman, a nonaffiliated political independent who was hand-picked by Crowell to fill in for the latter while he is serving on active duty in the U.S. Army Reserves.
“Common sense, sound planning and creative thinking are needed right now to solve the many complex financial problems we face,” Keator said.
The name of the new political organization, Common Cents, he said, “is also a reminder that the money does not belong to the government, but to the hard working taxpayers of Otsego County.”
Local Republicans have complained Crowell’s abrupt announcement last week that he was not running - nearly two weeks after the deadline for candidates to have their name removed from the ballot - was an attempt to hamper the GOP’s ability to take advantage of the opening.
Crowell has said his “difficult” decision grew out of concerns he could be again activated by the military and noting he his now interested in returning to the private sector.
Said County Republican Chairwoman Sheila Ross: “Given the last minute change in the election, we are very pleased that Ed has stepped forward and is willing to serve the people of the county. We should be fortunate to have someone with his experience as our next treasurer.”
In prepared statements, neither Keator nor Ross made any reference to Bachman, who has already been endorsed by Crowell as well as by County Rep. Don Lindberg, R-Worcester.
Otsego County Democratic Deputy Chairman Hank Nicols described Bachman as a non-partisan professional financial manager who has refused to join the Democratic Party out of his preference to remain independent. Nicols also predicted that more Republicans will come out for Bachman, 68, of Edmeston after he took a leading role in guiding the county government through the ongoing process of privatizing the Otsego Manor nursing home.
“It makes sense to have a steady hand at the helm,” Nicols said.
This will be the second attempt by Keator to become country treasurer in four years. In 2009, he defeated his old boss, then incumbent Treasurer Myrna Thane, in a Republican primary, only to lose to Crowell in the general election by just 156 votes.
The treasurer’s job pays $62,740 a year.
Previously, Keator has worked as an accountant in the treasurer’s office but left in 2009 when he had a disagreement with Thane, according to an account in The Daily Star that year. He operates Ed’s Bookkeeping & Tax Service in West Oneonta, and has also worked for Thomas C. Potter, CPA; The Arc Otsego and Gruver & Scott, CPAs.
Bachman, an Air Force veteran, earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from New Jersey City College and holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He also holds a master’s degree in guidance counseling.
Before working as the financial officer at Otsego Manor, he was an executive for Scanvec Inc., a computer software firm in Massachusetts. He has also been employed as the general manager of Auto Graphica Corp., based in New Jersey.
In helping Bachman, Democrats have started their own upstart party, Otsego First. They are also scrambling for signatures to get Bachman on the ballot.