QUEENSBURY- Local high school business teacher Michael O'Keefe gained the endorsement this week in his candidacy for Warren County treasurer from the county Democratic Committee.
O'Keefe is the son of present Warren County Treasurer Frank O'Keefe, who has announced his intent to retire at the year's end following 12 years in the post. Frank has said he fully supports his son's candidacy for the four-year position.
Dennis Tarantino, Michael's campaign manager, said Michael O'Keefe has the qualifications and character to tackle the treasurer's job.
"He's got the intelligence," Tarantino said. "He's got the ability to learn the position."
The younger O'Keefe has spent the past 15 years teaching business courses at Fort Edward High School. He holds a Bachelor's degree from SUNY Geneseo in Business Management and a Master's Degree in teaching.
While he has never held elected office, Michael said he has held the position of president of the Glen Lake Protective Association, a volunteer organization of about 200 members.
That experience has helped prepare him for an elected post, he said.
If elected, Michael said he would resign his teaching position.
"There's not enough time in the daylight hours to do both (jobs)," he said.
Tarantino said Michael has learned a lot relevant to the position on his own, but acknowledged he will need some on the job training as well, most likely with guidance from his father.
The endorsement of the Warren County Democratic Committee was recommended by the Queensbury Democratic Committee, which also endorsed him.
The Warren County treasurer, while not a policy maker, handles $35 million annually and manages an office of 11 people, according to Tarantino. The position paid $88,417. in 2011.
The elder O'Keefe said the office had seen gains under his three-term leadership. He said he as responsible for investing more county money, rather than leaving it idle, to boost revenue for the county. Also, he has regularly provided financial statements and cash flow reports to county leaders and the public, unlike his predecessors.
Frank said he helped implement a county-wide occupancy tax, which he said has brought in $21 million since its introduction. These accomplishments represent the type of track record he anticipates will continue under his son's leadership, Frank said.
In the coming days, Michael O'Keefe will be making many public appearances, meeting with business associations and hearing voters' concerns, Tarantino said.
"I want him to meet people wherever he can," Tarantino said. "We're just getting off the ground. We've got a long time between now and election day."
A call to Warren County Republican Committee Chairman Michael Grasso was not returned by press time.