James P. Keane became the third Democrat to officially declare his candidacy for county executive Friday, telling supporters packing Ironworkers Hall in West Seneca they cannot "relive the nightmare of the past eight years of the Giambra administration."
Keane, a former South Council member and deputy county executive under Dennis T. Gorski, said he chose a $25-per-ticket fundraising event in a union hall to emphasize the kind of campaign he envisions to return a Democrat to Rath County Office Building.
"I wanted to make sure the people who are the nuts-and-bolts support of my campaign hear it directly," he said, adding that the financial lead compiled by rival Paul T. Clark -- the West Seneca supervisor -- will begin to dissolve now that he has officially declared his candidacy.
Keane's announcement came on the same day that a Republican search committee interviewed former New York Secretary of State Christopher L. Jacobs, a Buffalo developer considered a top contender for the GOP nod.
Jacobs said Friday he hasn't decided whether to run, but added he felt good about his conversations with the panel.
"They asked thoughtful questions, and I'm glad I did it. I'm sure we'll talk more over the next couple of weeks," Jacobs said.
Amherst Council Member William A. O'Loughlin is the only other Republican seeking the post so far.
Keane, meanwhile, joins a crowded pack of Democrats. Besides Clark, Amherst Council Member Daniel J. Ward -- the 2003 Democratic nominee -- has already declared. Legislature Chairwoman Lynn M. Marinelli also is seriously considering the race, as is former Mayor James D. Griffin.
But Keane is already emphasizing his association with the Gorski administration. After a county financial crisis and imposition of a financial control board under retiring County Executive Joel A. Giambra -- a Republican -- Keane pointed to his role under Gorski, in what he called steadier times.
"I ran the day-to-day operations of county government, carrying out Gorski's policies and gaining the insight and skills that will be required of the next county executive," he said. "This is not the time for an untested rookie as county executive."