Hein faced no approaching deadline from proposed term limits

Ulster County Executive Mike Hein’s recent appointment to run a state agency came just a couple weeks after he lost a battle with the county Legislature over a proposal to set 12-year tenure limits for Ulster’s elected officials – and just as Hein was starting his 11th year as county executive.

But the countywide referendum scheduled for this November on whether to set that 12-year limit wouldn’t have meant Hein could only serve another year if voters approved the limit. Under the law that the Legislature passed twice, overriding Hein’s veto for its second vote in December, the restriction would have begun with the start of office holders’ first terms after voters approved the limit. So the 12-year clock would have started for Hein at the outset of his next term in 2020 – if the proposal passed and Hein was re-elected in county elections this November.

Hein, a Democrat who has been Ulster County executive for 10 years, was chosen by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to be the next commissioner of the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the agency that oversees aid programs for low-income and disabled New Yorkers. He plans to remain county executive until the state Senate confirms his appointment as commissioner. A special election will be held to fill the county executive’s seat until the end of the year, and another election for a four-year term will take place in November.

Hein had opposed holding a referendum on 12-year tenure limits for county office holders, arguing that state law required the county Legislature to make that decision rather than deferring to voters. He vowed after the Legislature’s veto override in December to sue or explore other ways to block the referendum. No lawsuit has been filed.

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