Ulster Dems, GOP endorse county exec candidates next week

Ulster County’s Democratic and Republican committees are set to meet next week to endorse candidates for county executive with uncertainty about whether their contenders will run in both a special election to serve this year and in the November election to claim a four-year term.

The vacancy arose this month with Mike Hein leaving the office he held for 10 years to take a position as commissioner of the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. The county charter says a special election must be held within 90 days of his resignation but doesn’t say who would call it, creating an ambiguity that the county’s attorneys are trying to resolve with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

The purpose of the special election would be to fill the office until Hein’s term expires at the end of the year. Adele Reiter, a deputy county executive and Hein’s former chief of staff, is serving as acting county executive until a successor is elected – either in a special election or the general election in November.

Both party chairmen hope to skip the special election, which could cost the county $350,000 and create as many as three elections for county executive in one year.

Three Democrats are seeking the party’s endorsement on Wednesday: Pat Ryan, runner-up in last year’s seven-way Democratic primary for the 19th Congressional District; Kingston businesswoman Pat Strong, a 2018 state Senate candidate; and former Woodstock Supervisor Jeff Moran. The winner will be the party’s nominee for the special election if that occurs, and its preferred candidate for a June 25 primary.

Republicans will hold their convention on Feb. 23 and have not revealed any prospective candidates.

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