By Joe Mahoney
---- — Otsego County Treasurer Dan Crowell easily trounced his Republican-backed opponent, Edward Keator Jr., on Tuesday, winning a convincing re-election despite being dogged by Republican suggestions that his heart was no longer in the job and predictions he will not complete a second term.
The final results posted by the Board of Elections late Tuesday had Crowell beating Keator, 6,731 to 4017, with all but paper ballots counted.
“I’m very grateful to the voters for their support,” Crowell told The Daily Star. “We’ve got an exciting four years ahead of us. It will be an opportunity to take a fresh look at how we provide services.”
He also said that once the county fulfills its goal of selling the financially troubled Otsego Manor nursing home next year, “we may actually see a declining tax rate” in subsequent years.
Crowell, now back in his office as treasurer, had vacated the position for much of the year after being activated by the military. He is a member of the Army Reserves, holding the rank of captain.
Keator is the treasurer for the village of Cooperstown. Keator and the Republican Party trained their sights on Crowell after the latter announced last summer he would not seek re-election, suggesting he will be deployed again and indicating he was interested in returning to a private-sector job.
However, Democrats, after initially luring then Acting Treasurer Russ Bachman to run for the office, soon learned it was too late to get Crowell off the ballot, and Bachman’s candidacy ended when he was unable to muster sufficient valid petitions to remain on the ballot.
The treasurer job pays $62,741 annually.
Crowell called the Republican claims that he would not stay in the job, “flat untrue. I’m here to serve the full four-year term.”
The same two combatants had faced off four years ago for the same job. Crowell picked up a close victory then, defeating Keator, 6,305 to 6,149.
The county’s Republican Party chairman, Vince Casale, said: “The voters have spoken, and while they have chosen to keep Mr. Crowell, we still maintain that he needs to clarify how he plans to fulfill his duties over the next four years.”
Democratic Party Chairman Richard Abbate said: “I am happy to see the residents understood the work Dan has accomplished over the last four years, and I am looking forward to his continued success as the treasurer of the county, and his leadership of that office.”
Hank Nicols, the Otsego County Democratic elections commissioner, said Crowell had the more advantageous ballot position, with his name appearing high up on Row A, while voters had to look down the ballot to find Keator’s name.
“They had a study in New York City that found out ballot position can make a difference,” Nicols said. “But I’m not sure that holds true in rural areas, where you know the candidates.”
Keator, two weeks ago, rejected an invitation from the League of Women Voters to debate Crowell, insisting voters know him well already and that he had prior commitments that conflicted with the event.