VOLNEY — Jacqueline Thorpe is the second Republican to declare a candidacy for Oswego County Clerk and wants to see the four-year office contested in next year’s general election.
In an interview with The Palladium-Times, Thorpe described herself as a problem solver with key institutional knowledge and the temperament to serve in one of the county’s most exacting elected positions. The Volney resident, who served for three years as deputy of operations under former Oswego County Clerk Michael Backus, says she’s “not a political person by nature.”
“I’ve done the job, I know the job and I have experience,” Thorpe said. “It’s not about the politics for me, it’s about putting someone in the job who is going to work hard and be the best at it.”
Backus resigned as clerk last month to take an executive role at Oswego Health, setting off a chain of events still unfolding and now with the new wrinkle of Thorpe’s candidacy. Because of the timing of Backus’ resignation and the clerk’s office up for election this year, it was impossible to remove his name from the ballot. Voters on Nov. 3 will still see Backus listed as the only candidate for Oswego County Clerk, but the Mexico native has repeatedly said he will resign his office again if he receives the most votes.
Oswego County Legislature Majority Leader Terry Wilbur, R-Hannibal, announced in the days after Backus’ September resignation that he would mount a write-in campaign to try and win the office outright in the November election now just four weeks away. If Wilbur or Thorpe are unsuccessful in topping the vote total (an uphill climb for both since a large number of absentee ballots have already been returned), several scenarios are possible. Backus’ resignation this September automatically elevated Deputy Oswego County Clerk Matthew Bacon to the position of Acting Oswego County Clerk and it is likely Bacon will continue in that capacity for the foreseeable future. If Backus were to resign minutes into his new term in January and Bacon was again next in the line of succession, Bacon would again be promoted to the big chair as Acting Oswego County Clerk. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, however, would have the authority to appoint a new Oswego County Clerk to serve for the remainder of next year. The office of clerk would then be contested for its full, four-year term in November 2021.
Reached by phone this week, Wilbur welcomed Thorpe to the race.
“That’s the great thing about America, anyone can run for office and I’d just say good luck to her,” Wilbur told The Pall-Times. “I’m out knocking doors every night campaigning and meeting with various groups, and I’ve been delighted with the outpouring of support I received.”
As operations deputy at the clerk’s office, Thorpe said she had extensive involvement with nearly every critical aspect of its complicated and often complex protocols. Overseeing a staff of more than 30 people including retention and recruitment, vendor and contract management, record retention and pistol permit records were just some of the many day-to-day clerk’s office responsibilities in her charge, she said, and gave her the know-how to step into the executive role.
“If I can help someone or move someone forward or solve a problem, that’s what I love,” she said. Thorpe previously worked for the Tobacco Free Network of CNY and Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce before joining the clerk’s staff in July 2015. She holds a degree in English from SUNY Oswego, a notary public certificate and graduated in 2013 from the Leadership Oswego County program.
Family tragedy struck the Thorpes in December 2019 when Aaron Thorpe, Jacqueline’s husband, died suddenly and unexpectedly. The mother of five left the working world, she said, to focus on her family in the wake of the life-changing event.
“The only reason I resigned (from as the clerk’s staff) was because my family needed me, but things have changed quite a bit,” she said. After careful consideration, she’s looking to introduce herself to voters during this election season with a cautious eye towards next November. Thorpe said as a registered Republican she would seek that ballot line, as well as potentially more.