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.
Unofficially, 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 County Executive 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,” he added. “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, 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 reverse a 13-10 Democratic advantage in the 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 but ran as a Republican.
In other races, Republican district attorney Holley Carnright and Democratic Family Court Judge Anthony McGinty were re-elected without opposition.