Hein gets another term as county executive

Mike Hein, with wife Christine and former state senator Cecilia Tkaczyk in the background, greets supporters on election night. (Photo: Phyllis McCabe)

Mike Hein, with wife Christine and former state senator Cecilia Tkaczyk in the background, greets supporters on election night. (Photo: Phyllis McCabe)

With all 163 election districts reporting, Democrat Mike Hein had an unofficial lead of 4,462 votes (54.9 percent) over Republican challenger Terry Bernardo (42.2 percent) in the race for county executive. Green Party candidate Hunter Downie trailed with 960 votes.

Excluding the still uncounted absentee ballots, Hein had 19,201 votes to Bernardo’s 14,739.


Voting was light at about 40 percent but typical of off-year (non-presidential or non-state) elections.

Hein, also the Working Families Party candidate, was seeking a third term. Elected in 2008, he defeated Bernardo’s husband Len by over 12,000 votes. He was unopposed for reelection in 2011.

“I am incredibly humbled to have received such a remarkable level of support from the voters for my re-election,” said Hein. “I am so thankful to all of those who stood together and made this victory possible, including my volunteers and supporters from all political parties, my friends and allies in labor, the great Ulster County Democratic Committee, and especially my family and friends. We started seven years ago with clear goals: place people before politics, reject the divisive politics that keep us apart, and focus on getting the job done. “I’m looking forward to continuing our work moving Ulster County forward.”

Bernardo, who entered the race in June, was endorsed by the Conservative, Independence and Reform parties. Her husband is chairman of the Independence Party. She was elected to two terms in the county legislature, the last in 2012-13 as its first woman chairman.

She and her husband operate the Skate Time 209 roller rink in Accord.

Hein, a former bank branch manager, entered county government in 2003 as a deputy treasurer. He was appointed county administrator in mid-2006, a position he held at his election as the county’s first executive.

“There goes Congress,” predicted legislature Minority Leader Ken Ronk at a Republican gathering in Kingston Tuesday night, referring to speculation that Hein would run for the to-be-vacated 19th Congressional District seat next year. “He needed at least 60 percent to be considered a serious candidate.”

Hein has repeatedly refused to speculate on his political future. Neither has he committed to a full four-term. Term of office is four years, beginning January 1, at an annual salary of $133,572.

Ronk’s party apparently did not pick up the two seats it needed to upend a 13-10 Democratic advantage in the county legislature. The final unofficial tally for the legislature was 12-11 Democrat if you count Richard Parete of Marbletown as a Democrat. Parete is an enrolled Democrat who ran as a Republican.

In other races, Republican District Attorney Holley Carnright and Democratic Family Court judge Anthony McGinty were re-elected without opposition.

Incumbents cruise in Saugerties

Greg Helsmoortel won his eighth term as Saugerties town supervisor with 67 percent of the vote against opponent Gaetana Ciarlante’s 33 percent, according to unofficial general election results.

​​Helsmoortel’s running mates also won handily — Fred Costello with 38 percent and Leeanne Thornton with 29 percent.​ All are Independence Party members supported by Democrats.​ Opponents Allyson Barbaria and Dan Ellsworth received 21 and 11 percent, respectively.

Helsmoortel has said this would be his final term.

In the other big contest, incumbent District 2 Legislator Chris Allen defeated Angie Minew with 59 percent of the vote.

As with Helsmoortel and Costello, Allen carried the Democratic, Republican and Independence lines, while the only significant line carried by Ciarlante, Ellsworth and Minew was the Conservative line. The long odds may have been responsible for many voters staying home; over 30 percent fewer cast ballots than in the last local election in 2013.

Ballot goof confuses Woodstock town board race

The Democrats won it all in Woodstock, with voters choosing Jeremy Wilber for supervisor and Jay Wenk and Laura Ricci for town board, though a ballot printing snafu may cast a cloud over those victories.

Incumbent Wilber trounced Republican challenger Nancy Schauffler 1,062-334, according to unofficial results election night. Deputy Supervisor Laura Ricci was elected to her first term as a voting member of the town board and garnered the highest number of votes of the four candidates vying for two seats with 761, followed by incumbent Wenk with 703.

Councilman Ken Panza, who lost the Democratic primary and ran as a Republican, fell short in his re-election bid, getting 641 votes, followed by Republican Janine Fallon-Mower with 622 votes.

But the talk at both camps was the unfortunate ballot misprint that went undetected by the Ulster County Board of Elections. Instructions on the top of the ballot directed voters to choose only one candidate when there were two open seats. The incorrect ballots were given to voters when polls opened at 6 a.m. until Deputy Clerk Lynn Sehwerert noticed the error when casting her votes at around 7:30 a.m. Board of Elections commissioners Vic Work and Tom Turco raced to Woodstock to instruct poll workers to explain the error to voters and the commissioners posted signs informing voters they could cast two ballots for town board.

“Somehow it got past our proofing,” said Democratic Elections Commissioner Vic Work. “The machine is taking two votes and all the inspectors are telling all the voters to vote for two. The sample ballot has been written over in red, vote for two. There’s one on each table where the ballot masters are and on the wall.”

Work said there’s “no way to tell” how many voters may have cast ballots before the error was discovered. This year, the town clerk’s office didn’t receive early sample ballots as in the past, perhaps resulting in another missed opportunity to catch the error.

As far as what happens next, “Any election can be challenged. But I would wait until we get finished with the absentees,” Work said. The absentee ballots had the correct instructions, he said.

Despite assurances from the Board of Elections, candidates remained concerned.

“The top priority is for the voters of Woodstock’s will to be honored in this race,” said Ricci, who thinks the ballots may have been rushed after a back-and-forth discussion over whether the Women’s Equality Party line should be included.

Panza, who finished 62 votes behind Wenk for the second seat on the board said that the Republicans are kind of in wait-and-see mode and that he hasn’t decided if he’s going to challenge the results. “We haven’t made any decision about that but I think it’s unlikely,” he said. “The results aren’t that close. There’s a 60 vote difference and it’s hard to see how the screw up would have made that much difference. It was discovered at 7:30 a.m. by the deputy town clerk. I voted by about 8:10 and was told about it. People I called who voted later in the day all said they’d been told they could vote for two. If you look at the numbers of who voted then (before the mistake was discovered) it’s pretty small. From what I can see it wasn’t that big of a deal, don’t think it would change the overall results.”

With additional reporting from Will Dendis and Nick Henderson.



There are 13 comments

  1. Steven Fornal

    Nice scoop, Hugh! Jesus H. it’s 11:50 PM and we don’t have many results at all from UC Board of Elections. What a lousy job it has done; or should I say, not done.

    To think the BOE listed most of the unopposed votes first. How absurd! Everyone already knew who’d win those, so, why post first?

    As I said, it’s nearly midnight and really nothing to speak of has come across the site.

    Really pathetic. But, again, great job getting at least what you did.

  2. nopolitics

    Hey Mr. Fornal, lighten up:the procedures for both opening and closing voting are much more involved, complex, tedious, and take more time with the new machines than for the old machines(I know-I was an election inspector). Waiting until the next day for official results won’t kill anyone–except in some place where the only thing happening is local politics(and WHERE might THAT be, I wonderrrrrr?). Not to mention counting absentee ballots and ballots where voters choose to put one or more write-in votes takes extra time to count as these are separated by the voting machines from the regular ballots and is tedious, and the workers involved in doing this are not exactly paid the salary of a farmer cum county worker cum county exeucutive whose office is good at dropping balls on serious matters involving senior citizens(uh-oh–could that have been a factor in the dilution of this man’s totals in terms of “man-date with his wife” this year?) in performing these tasks either.

    1. Steven L. Fornal

      Well, NOPOLITICS, beside the fact that your reference at the end is too cryptic to understand what you’re talking about, (though it seems you’re somehow attempting to disparage Hein’s 55 percent to 42 percent victory as being an unconvincing win) the first part about the machines taking more time for “closing voting” doesn’t seem at all correct as it’s computerized. Votes tallied without any need for human counting and tabulating and collecting and transporting. Vote counts should be easily, quickly sent to the Election Board via internet connection. Absentee ballots have always been counted during the days after election NOT on voting day. And, seriously, how many write ins happen?

      Let’s face it, the county needs to do a better job of posting results and getting enough server space (maybe purchase temporary cloud storage) for election nights.

      For the election board to get scooped by Hugh Reynolds is, well I won’t characterize it for Hugh’s sake. But, it isn’t very complimentary.

      1. nopolitics

        No Mr. Fornal, you are simply uninformed as to the nature of the process, as I attempted to explain to you but you insist on persisting in the notion that “because the tallies are ‘computerized’, this means the process so much as allows instant transmission or something close thereto of such tallies. Computerization of such tallies within the separate machines does not trump, by process, a detailed security process once voting is over, including the use of multiple security actions designed to secure the machines, which contain the ballots, both those ballots containing no write-in votes and those which do contain those, which are separated from the ballots which do not contain write-in votes. Then there is a process by which after that is done, law enforcement personnel or board of elections personnel accompany the memory card which is first secured in a secured bag placed within a secured larger bag, back to the board of elections from each polling place. Since we are speaking of a county-wide election here, that means from each polling place throughout the county. These are transported back to the board of elections, which then places the cards into their computers. Now, could the process be conceived in a fashion so as to allow the earlier transmission of such tallies? Certainly. But in so doing, one would necessarily sacrifice security procedures and thus very likely tend to further invite litigation especially in close races(what’s a little lawyering business among Marmy-Schmarmy friends in Po-dunk Ulster county anyway though?) So what you achieve in reaching the goals you suggest might not be worth it overall in terms of preventing the aftermath to be more tedious and complicated, and further obscure for the public just what went on. So, as my mother used to say, “this could be six of one, and half a dozen of the other.” In other words, you still would not live in anything close to a perfect world with a perfect solution to all the problems both known and reasonably considered possible. What you suggest would mean that computers with internet connections be set up at each polling place, so that the memory card could be placed into those computers and the results immediately transmitted back to the board of elections. Could that be done? Sure. The legislature would have to pass that as a procedure or the state legislature allow the local boards of elections to go ahead with such a procedure. Go ahead and lobby your county legislator and/or state legislator to finance this and put into place all the necessary procedures to accomplish this if you must, along with all the other financing and procedures(you’ll need extra computers at each polling location, people to transport same to each polling place,internet connections established at least for election night at each location, and additional procedures in place to ensure the process is both secure and honest, and likely buchu poll watchers(many more than commonly appear as of now). Good luck. If you win your way, please, “keep us all informed at least.” Some of the older folks are still adjusting to the new machines, and I wonder if such a further change were instituted, Hugh Reynolds would be able to prevent suffering an instant heart attack himself from the shock of it all. Of course, the tapes could just be read and the results be transmitted by phone, but this would necessarily combine old technology with new technology, and thus not satisfy the hardcore computer wonks such as what you seem to be out there, and would not reflect an official result from what is considered the more reliable source, ie, the memory card. So, what do you suggest in terms of reconciling these items, eh? Tell us what YOU would do, and let us go from there….oh, and I do not detect phones easily available to poll workers at all such polling sites, so that in order for that to happen, someone would have to be equipped with at least a cellphone in order to accomplish the transmission of this information as well. And hopefully that is charged adequately or we have a problem with that procedure also. So the fact simply is if folks wait until the next day, the official results can generally be known to a large extent, and the write in ballots and absentees added in on the usual schedule, which cannot be sped up no matter what is done. So my belief is that in terms of the attainment of an official result, there really isn’t any way to speed up that process no matter what you do ANYWAY. Technology CAN however, allow for the general improvement in voting in terms of designing and implementing a system fully transmittable and calculable and verifiable over the internet. We don’t have that system today. Perhaps we ought. That is yet an entirely different matter, under which your assertion that because the voting is “computerized” this will allow faster and accurate results to become possible. Whether even that is ever going to be attained anywhere remains to be seen. End of discussion for 2015.

        1. Steven L. Fornal

          I thank you for that long explanation of something I wasn’t suggesting. My suggestion was ONLY for unofficial results. As you stated, a simple smart phone app could allow the instantaneous transmission of results to the UC Board of Election server. Perhaps a intermediate step would be introduced (password logon) so it wouldn’t be an absolute direct access. But, my point was about getting the unofficial tally up and to the people in something less than an Outer Mongolian time frame.

          1. nopolitics

            Then please take your proposal to the powers that can get it done as opposed to merely kvetching on here about it, Mr. Fornal. Take your smart phone app idea, insist that smart phones and their apps be financed, and see if you can get it done. Poll watchers, in case they have smart phone and their apps, could do it now in terms of the technical aspects it would seem, without the need for specific financing for this, but the procedure would still have to be put in place in some formal manner. “Outer Mongolia”…hmm…good description of Ulster County in most if not all aspects–why mess with “SUCH SUCCESS”?? Why in fact, here on outer Mongolia, insist that the county executive actually pay any attention to the daily operations of this overwhelmingly dysfunctional county and their separate and coequally dysfunctional departments that fails to serve the elderly in great need and I have my own story on how this perennial smiley-face character’s office easily accomplished such which resulted in the death of someone by clear and consistent neglect, and then you tell me then why should we not just continue to speculate as to why this man is either fit or not for running for Congress and I will tell you to take your “relative trivia” and shove it where neither smart phones or their apps “SHINE”!!

  3. TheBigGuy

    Hein would be a much more viable congressional candidate if he could settle his differences with the Catskill Mountain Railroad in a manner perceived as being fair by rail supporters, not just trail-only advocates.

    1. Steven L. Fornal

      THEBIGGUY, Hein put forth a compromise, rail from Kingston to Hurley. However, the legislature, both sides of the aisle mind you, did not opt for that option. It most likely is waiting for the feasibility study to be finished before considering that additional track run.

      But, as far as being fair to rail supporters, you mean those that disregarded 24 years of violating the lease CMRR signed into? Those that refuse to discuss the additional taxpayer millions it would cost to repair not just a single bridge but others damaged by neglect and bad weather? Those that support a private enterprise using volunteer labor (read unpaid) as a business plan component for shoring up the track to lease required standards (thus why CMRR was unable to rehab more than 20 percent of the length of track in question)? Those that refuse to address the impossibility of restoring track run through the Ashokan Reservoir due to DEP authority there and DEP’s absolute refusal to allow such a train component through that area? Those that refuse to address the prohibitive insurance costs to taxpayers of allowing for side-by-side track and trail? Those that refuse to address the prohibitive cost to taxpayers of actually physically blasting through dense rock to create the necessary width in a couple of locations for a trail by track scheme? Those that have obfuscated and literally lied about the fact that it was CMRR that sued the county when, in a display of leadership, Hein demanded the 24 year old lease requirements actually be complied with so rather than comply CMRR sued?

      You mean reach an understanding satisfactory to those people?

  4. Captain Obvious

    For anyone to take Hein’s poor showing as anything other than a cold hard dose of whoa there Mr. Hein, is foolish. Hein should have and could have pulled Hinchey/Cahill type results in the low to mid 60’s but instead he got mediocre results like Tzacyck who mysteriously appeared on election night. The < 55% that he did receive and the raw numbers of under 20k speak volumes about Hein's quickly eroding popularity. He can kiss Congress goodbye,he may want to do a little soul searching on where his popularity has gone off the rails.

    1. Steven L. Fornal

      You state, “…and the raw numbers of under 20k speak volumes about Hein’s quickly eroding popularity.”

      Or, maybe it speaks to the fact that people become complacent when the job being done is good and taken care of so there’s no complaints.

      And, tell me this, Capt’Obvious, If Terry Bernardo had won by a fraction of a percent, what would your stance be? That she had no mandate re CMRR’s future? And, if at all possible, be not only obvious but truthful, please.

      1. Captain Obvious

        Hein did not poll well, even he would admit it. Apologist aside, most people who follow politics are very surprised that Hein did so poorly. Take the kid out of the race and it looks ever worse. Part of being a successful upwardly mobile public servant is being able to get people out to vote, especially in the off years. Hein did not do that. I do not believe people are any more complacent than they were 4 years ago and 3 years before that. As for Bernado, Ulster County would be in a world of hurt had she been elected Executive. My statements were not pro Bernardo nor were they offering anything other than my opinion on Hein’s obvious fall from grace with his previous supporters. In my opinion, his fight with CMRR has not helped him. Whether or not anything can ever be considered a mandate when it is not a specific ballot item is subjective and can never be honestly answered by anyone. My opinion stands, Hein has plateaued in his political career for now and unless he changes something drastically, there is only once place to go from here.

  5. nopolitics

    When anyone has observed the level of dysfunction and incompetence out of the office of county executive when the life of an elderly person is literally on the line over it as I have, then I will tell you that this IS Outer Mongolia, has no difference between this county and outer Mongolia, and Mr. Hein’s smile does not and cannot atone for such a performance. Mr. Cahill is right about this particular thing, although he too is a denier of excessive facts embarrassing to himself as well.

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