Backus officially leaves Clerk office

Then-Oswego County Clerk Michael Backus addresses a Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce small business roundtable event in 2017. Backus on Friday tendered his resignation of his elected office to take over as chief operating officer of Oswego Health.

OSWEGO — Oswego County Clerk Michael Backus has resigned his office, following up on the announcement last month he would leave politics to take over as Oswego Health’s chief operations officer.

Backus, 36, told The Palladium-Times Friday morning he had signed and sent official resignation letters, and Deputy County Clerk Matthew Bacon would be elevated to Acting County Clerk at close of business before the long holiday weekend.

“It has been an honor to serve as Oswego County Clerk, and I am very proud of the team we have in place across the department,” Backus said.

First elected in 2012, the Mexico native and Le Moyne College grad during his tenure in office oversaw a massive expansion and renovation project at the Oswego Department of Motor Vehicles on state Route 481.

In his new leadership role at Oswego Health, Backus will manage the organization’s growth and connectivity to the community as a health system, organization officials said. He will lead the strategic planning and development of the overall organization on a day-to-day basis, along with promoting Oswego Health as a premier regional healthcare provider. Additionally, Backus will be responsible for business development including overseeing physician recruitment, community relations and capital project planning.

“As a previous board member, I’ve had the opportunity to personally get to know Michael very well. I’m confident he will not only be a great fit for our organization, but he understands our culture and mission and truly wants to see Oswego Health succeed,” said Oswego Health President and CEO Michael Harlovic.

Due to the timing of his resignation, Backus’ name will still appear on the Nov. 3 election ballot. Oswego County Clerks serve a four-term term, and Backus until this month was considered a shoe-in for re-election as no Democratic Party (or any other party) candidates had filed paperwork to run against him. State election law forbids the removal of a candidate this late in the year after having filed nominating petitions, but Backus has said explicitly he will not campaign and will not serve if elected.

Oswego County Majority Leader Terry Wilbur this week announced his intention to mount a write-in campaign for Oswego County Clerk, which Backus told the Pall-Times he would not contest while wishing Wilbur good fortune. The Hannibal Republican has served in the county Legislature since 2010.

If Wilbur is elected Nov. 3, he will be sworn in for a full four-year term on Jan. 1, 2021. If Backus still receives more votes than any other candidate, he intends to take his oath of office then immediately resign a second time. Gov. Andrew Cuomo could then appoint a county clerk, or the office could appear on the Nov. 2021 ballot.

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