HANNIBAL — Oswego County Legislature Majority Leader Terry Wilbur on Thursday launched a write-in campaign for Oswego County Clerk in the wake of news earlier this week of an imminent vacancy in the elected position.
Oswego County Clerk Michael Backus has no Democratic Party opponent for the Nov. 3 election and it was considered fait accompli he would earn a third four-year term. Backus, however, had other plans: the Mexico native announced Tuesday his intention to resign his office Sept. 4 and take over as chief operating officer of Oswego Health.
Even though Backus has permanently suspended his campaign and indicated his intention to leave politics entirely, the incumbent's name will still appear on the Nov. 3 ballot due to New York election law as it relates to the timing of his resignation.
Wilbur said he will spend the next two months campaigning in hopes of earning enough write-in votes on Election Day to win the clerk race outright, calling the office an “integral part of every citizen’s life.”
“I promise the people of Oswego County that I will work hard every day to make sure your documents are protected, you have swift access to reliable services and that your needs are addressed professionally and responsibly,” Wilbur said in announcing his candidacy.
A life-long Hannibal resident, Wilbur has served on the Oswego County Legislature for the past decade and in the last two years has served as Republican conference majority leader. Some of his proudest accomplishments, he said, included “working with colleagues to keep taxes low and maintain county services.”
"It has been an honor and a privilege to represent Hannibal in the Legislature and to work with leaders throughout the county on public safety, public health, infrastructure decisions, and many other matters affecting county residents," said Wilbur. “ I stand committed to educating the public in the next two months about this write-in campaign so that Oswego County may have an experienced, elected leader at this critical county-wide post.”
Reach Thursday, Backus said he had no interest in contesting the election any further and wished Wilbur well on his endeavor.
“Terry has been a great friend for many years and a knowledgeable partner on the Legislature,” Backus told The Palladium-Times. “Working with (Deputy Clerk) Matt Bacon, I have every confidence the office will be well served by Terry should he be successful.”
Wilbur has worked for Assembly Minority Will Barclay, R-Pulaski, as a member of Barclay's district staff for the past nine years, specializing in constituent services and community engagement.
Fellow County Legislator Tom Drumm, D-Oswego, said local Democrats were weighing their options.
“This is an evolving situation with a lot of moving parts and scenarios,” Drumm said. “We’re huddling up and deciding what makes the most sense both in the short and long term.”
Wilbur said everyone’s had to make pandemic adjustments, and that would include campaigning as well
“While I will still be meeting voters through socially distanced opportunities, I recognize the need to respect people’s space and be cognizant of the times we’re living in,” he said, noting he plans to visit each of the 22 towns and 2 cities in Oswego County “multiple times” before Election Day.
Wilbur and his wife Brianna live in Hannibal with their three children.