When Otsego County voters went to the polls four years ago, it was a certainty that the election would crown a new county treasurer.
On Tuesday, the same two candidates in the 2009 contest, incumbent Dan Crowell, a Democrat, and Republican-backed Edward Keator Jr., face each other again.
This time, the race is infused with fresh drama, ignited when Crowell, a captain in the U.S. Army Reserves, announced he would not seek re-election. But he switched gears after Democrats realized they could not get his name off the ballot and his would-be successor, Russ Bachman, failed to withstand GOP scrutiny of his nominating petitions.
After Keator was defeated by Crowell in 2009, he was appointed the treasurer of the Village of Cooperstown. This year, he didn’t materialize as the GOP’s anointed candidate until after Crowell initially attempted to take himself out of the race. Since then, county Republicans have tried to paint Crowell as being insincere about his commitment to the elected office and insinuated that he will vacate the office again in 2014 and appoint Bachman once again as acting treasurer.
The Democrats have argued that it’s unseemly for the Republicans to make an issue out Crowell’s commitment to his military obligations and contend his performance as treasurer has been stellar.
In an interview, Crowell pointed to what he said was his success in refinancing the bond for the Otsego Manor nursing home, a move that saved $1.6 million in finance costs. Another highlight of his tenure, he said, was restructuring the health plan for county employees, an action that also yielded significant savings. He also touted his efforts to involve managers of county agencies in what he called an ongoing attempt to make county government as efficient as possible.
Last year, after Crowell produced documentation to show that the county’s multi-million-dollar subsidy to the Otsego Manor was destined to spiral even higher, the county board decided to try to privatize the 174-bed facility. A local development corporation was formed to handle that task, and proposals from an array of health care companies are under consideration.