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July 30, 2013

Otsego treasurer won't seek re-election

By Joe Mahoney Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — COOPERSTOWN — Citing his ongoing commitment to the U.S. Army Reserves, Otsego County Treasurer Dan Crowell revealed Monday he will not seek re-election this year and instead will throw his support to the county's acting treasurer, Russ Bachman, an unaffiliated independent.

Crowell, a Democrat who resides in Middlefield and has been on active duty since last January, said he made the decision after conferring with his family.

"It's just not compatible with military service," he said of his county position, which has him serving as Otsego County's chief fiscal officer. Crowell said if were to run for re-election to a second four-year term, there would be a high probability that he would be reactivated again for an even longer period than he is currently serving.

Crowell, an Army captain, also cited the fact he has been undergoing extensive training to become a leader in the elite Army Rangers.

The stunning development appeared to create an opportunity for Otsego Republicans, although the GOP has yet to field a candidate for the influential position — one of the few county-wide elected posts.

In a prepared statement, Crowell said: "This was a difficult decision, as I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as treasurer. In particular, over the course of the last few years, I have come to appreciate how blessed we are with the many talented and dedicated department heads and employees, as well as a community that is remarkably informed and engaged. Across those groups and across their respective spectrum of opinions on the many complex issues we face as a community, it has been a privilege and a deeply rewarding experience to serve them."

Crowell said he plans to pursue potential opportunities in the private sector, but noted he is not entertaining any job offers at this point. He also would not rule out the possibility he would one day again decide to seek public office.

Otsego County Democratic Chairman Richard Abbate said the executive committee of the Democratic Party, in the wake of Crowell's decision, has endorsed Bachman, an Edmeston resident.

The former fiscal manager of Otsego Manor, Bachman gave up that post when he ran for county treasurer in 2005 as an independent. He was narrowly defeated in November 2005 by Republican Myrna Thayne.

Because the deadline for withdrawing nominations was July 15, Democrats are now exploring potential options for having Crowell's name removed from election ballots in November, Abbate said.

Crowell said he only learned the deadline for dropping out was that earlier on July 16, after he returned home on leave. He is scheduled to return to Army duty at the end of this week.

Otsego County GOP Chairwoman Sheila Ross said she believes it will be impossible for Crowell to have his name removed from the ballot.

She also questioned whether it will be possible for supporters of Bachman to come up with 1,000 signatures by Aug. 15 in order to get his name on the ballot.

"It's a short time to get 1,000 signatures," she said.

Ross would not say if Republicans will be putting forward a candidate of their own to try to wrest control of the county treasurer's office, which has a significant say in how the county's $124 million annual budget is packaged.

"Let's see what happens," Ross said.

Crowell, who has been undergoing training at Fort Bragg, was elected county treasurer in November 2009 when he narrowly defeated Republican Edward Keator Jr. of West Oneonta. In an interview in January, he said he was planning to seek re-election, noting then that "I have a high degree of satisfaction in the job I am doing now."

Ross questioned why Crowell wasn't aware of the deadline for dropping his candidacy, saying the same timetable existed when he ran four years ago for treasurer.

"I don't know why he doesn't remember it," she said.

Crowell said the recent training he has been undergoing has been particularly grueling, including one class that involved sleep deprivation, when participants could sleep no more than two hours in an entire week. He said more than half of the members of that class washed out of the program.