Ulster County exec resigns to take job in Cuomo administration

Mike Hein (file photo).

A decade after he was elected as Ulster County’s first county executive, Mike Hein will step down to take a post heading up a state social service agency. The surprise announcement came Friday, Jan. 4 in an afternoon press release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo announcing new appointments as he begins his third term in office. According to the release, Hein has been nominated to helm the State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.

In a statement, Hein said he’d accomplished the goals he set out to achieve.

“From the very beginning, I was hired by the extraordinary people of Ulster County to fix a severely broken government and I’m proud to say that we’ve done exactly that,” he stated. “Righting long-standing wrongs, delivering capital projects on time and under budget, creating unprecedented environmental and financial achievements, never shying away from the serious issues of social justice and every step of the way protecting our taxpayers like never before.”


There is no word on when the appointment will take effect. Under the terms of the County charter, Hein Chief of staff, attorney Adele B. Reiter, will take over the county executive’s office pending November’s election.

Two familiar faces from last year’s Democratic primary for the 19th congressional district have stepped forward to fill Hein’s shoes.

Gareth Rhodes said he will be, “considering a campaign for this important position…With Donald Trump shutting down the federal government, it is critical that our local and county governments continue do everything possible to serve the people each and every day.”

Pat Ryan went one step further.

“I am excited to declare my candidacy for Ulster County executive. I have a clear vision for how to lead Ulster County forward; we will accelerate economic growth and ensure it benefits all, we will implement a Green New Deal in Ulster County to create jobs and protect our environment, and we will ensure that the county remains a beacon of justice and equality during these turbulent times.”

Here’s Hein’s statement in full:

It’s an incredible honor to be nominated by Governor Cuomo to lead such a critical agency at this pivotal time in our history. I am deeply passionate about helping those among us most in need and moving Governor Cuomo’s highly progressive agenda forward.

Over the past decade I’ve had the privilege of serving the great people of Ulster County as our first County Executive. In the process, I’ve been fortunate to work with an amazingly talented team of people within my administration and with partners all across our community. Together we’ve accomplished what many thought of as impossible; ensuring more life altering services than ever before, completely restructuring County government and delivering the lowest county property taxes since before I first took office, over a decade ago.

From the very beginning, I was hired by the extraordinary people of Ulster County to fix a severely broken government and I’m proud to say that we’ve done exactly that. Righting long-standing wrongs, delivering capital projects on time and under budget, creating unprecedented environmental and financial achievements, never shying away from the serious issues of social justice and every step of the way protecting our taxpayers like never before. With all the changes we’ve collectively made, and all the challenges we’ve collectively met, Ulster County government is now more effective and efficient than at any point in its history and our community is far better positioned for a sustainable and brighter future for everyone with lower taxes for years to come.


There are 19 comments

  1. sawyer customer

    I hate to be paranoid but I gotta think he knows a shoe is about to drop in UC so he’s getting out of here. He’s been robbing peter to pay paul for years with the budget maybe that’s over now and the next exec will have to raise taxes and get blamed? Plus we’re overdue for a recession, that usually means more tax increases since gov’t is incapable of trimming spending.

  2. JamaicaonHudson

    Hmmm, interesting turn of events. Methinks, with this move, he’s positioning himself to run for higher office…Cuomo called, so he answered.

    On an aside, NYStateofPolitics is guessing Ryan, Rhodes, and Auerbach in the running for County Exec. I know this is premature but (of the three), should he want it, Rhodes would probably win. Conversely, Auerbach has the most governmental experience. Of the names not mentioned (i.e. Kevin Cahill, Dan Torres/Hector Rodriquez, Steve Noble), there’s probably some interest (but it’d be a stretch).

    Personally, I’d LOVE a progressive woman (with planning/policy/business experience) for that position. If not an option, I’d vote Rhodes.

  3. Alicia W.

    I never liked him in the first place. He has been destroying the Catskill Mt. Railroad every chance he got. I would rather see a woman become the next Ulster County Executive.

    1. Steven Lance Fornal

      Puh-leeze! The CMRR destroyed itself with twenty five years of failure to adhere to the legal lease agreement it had with the county. Hein merely called them on it.

      CMRR has only itself to blame. It was a dismal performance by hobbyists that got a ‘UGE break with that lease and proceeded to ignore its responsibilities.

    2. Alicia W.

      The Railroad had to spend every cent on legal fees. Michael did everything he could to bankrupt them.

      1. Steven Lance Fornal

        CMRR’s 25 year history of failing to adhere to the lease obligations it signed onto was why it had to go to court. Don’t blame Hein for CMRR’s failures.

        Are you someone who believes that signing a legal commitment doesn’t mean anything? CMRR had obligations which it failed to address. How can anyone condone that?

    3. Alicia W.

      In 2014 The CMRR hosted Thomas the Tank Engine and brought in over a million dollars in revenue. This is a business not a hobby.

      1. Steven Lance Fornal

        CMRR has forever made unsubstantiated earning statements; never putting out the verified accounting data. Grandiose claims require grand proofs. CMRR has offered no proof of anything.

        And, with all that supposed money, how was it that CMRR didn’t abide by lease obligations for the upkeep of rails? It had volunteers working yet all that money went to someone or some ones; all of it unaccounted for.

        CMRR got a great deal with that lease and through its poor management/business plan violated it again and again.

  4. Paul Chauvet

    Sad to see Hein go – he’s done a fantastic job for Ulster County – but I wish him well. Would love to see Gareth Rhodes or Pat Ryan run for County Exec if they’re willing – they’d both be great at it I think.

  5. Rick jones

    The three you mention, Ryan, Rhodes and Auerbach as front runners would all be great. Will be an interesting few months as the line-ups shift. Progressive Woman would be fine also. Who?? The one thing for sure is that there will be changes to who the power brokers were and are. Will be fun to watch and engage.

  6. Steven Lance Fornal

    First, notice how no one has mentioned Len Bernardo for the job. THANK GOODNESS!! As for Hein leaving, it’s a sad day for Ulster County. He did a very efficient job and brought the county government into the 21 st Century by making government transparent.

    It always amazes me how people condemn pols that do a great job. No pleasing the nay-sayers.

    As for Auerbach, maybe we should pause until the investigation into cyber breaches by his office is complete.

    Yeah, Pat Strong sounds like a good candidate for the job, also.

  7. Woodstock Al

    I believe the next Exec should be someone who not only has some County level experience, but can bring the Democratic party together. No offense to Ryan or Rhodes, but they both seem to be somewhat of opportunist. I never heard of either of them before the Congressional race and certainly not since, until today. While both are good men, they have virtually no experience with Ulster County and it’s government. There has to be someone who knows the ropes, has been a dedicated Democrat and can win in a general election. Auerbach is knee deep in controversy with unresolved issues within the County Government already. Hoping for others to toss their hats in the ring.

    1. Steven Lance Fornal

      Agreed. Auerbach is, indeed in deep doo-doo as are his staff members; or at least some of them with the cyber breach-gate thing. If he gets in I wouldn’t be surprised to see his first order of business is to quash that investigation.

      What about Hein’s Deputy Executive, Ken Crannell? Most able and quite familiar with Hein’s vision.

  8. Jafu

    Why not just take this opportunity to leave the post vacant? The county did just fine before we had an exec and it would do quite well without one in the future. Every town and city has a mayor and that should suffice. Why not save the taxpayers a little money?

  9. Meno Yoder

    Well, first he lowered HEAP (heat assistance money for the poor and disabled) from $500 a year to $450 a year to $300 a year. Next, he closed the health clinics around the county except one. Finally, in closed down the County’s comptroller office financially, and told the Department of Taxation and Finance to do nothing with government’s police powers to find and collect by the end of his term lost tax-revenue from rooming houses, off campus dorms, fraternities, sororities and boarding houses.
    That’s how the state got $10 million for the county for everything except recreational-weed.

  10. Ulster Moderate

    Filling Mike Hein’s shoes will be a challenge for those of us that live here in Ulster County. I hesitate to call Mike Hein great, but he is a very good country executive. This is not a Democrat or Republican issue, just take a look at his achievements versus our neighboring counties. He was very fiscally responsible after the jail mess. I have lived in Ulster county (New Paltz) for 15 years, and while he has been in office, the country tax burden has gone down. Can you say that about the town or state? He has been constantly innovating, the Restorative Justice center for example. Hector Rodriguez, can try to take that over, but he did not come up with the idea. Where Hein has been weak, is in his relationship with County Legislators, but is hard to blame him, since so many seem to have narrow parochial interest and can’t seem to see the bigger picture.

    What is the bigger picture? Fundamentally, it is the stable to declining population of the county that goes with long run demographic challenges in the nation (older population). We are never going to have another IBM that brings a huge payroll and property taxes to the county. We need to be attractive to people who want to move here. That balancing a better quality of life (taxes, lifestyle, etc) to be attractive to companies and people.

    The progressive wing of the current Ulster county Democrats would be a disaster in that regard. So would the Len & Terry Bernardo show. Elliot Auerbach, is a nice guy, but is basically unimaginative as a Comptroller and borderline useless. Don’t believe me, go read the reports that is office puts out, they are filled with errors, that is like shooting fish in a barrel. The Hector Rodriguez crowd are a distaster waiting to happen, he can barely maintain a job, and wants to be majority leader. And job he does have leads to conflicts of interest that should have gotten him booted. The people he brought into run the IDA have just demonstrated there own level of incompetence, Rick Jones is a good example of that. I have nothing to say about Ryan, Rhodes, Strong, or others.

    The best town leader we have is probably, Jim Quigley. He may not have the most magnetic personality but he does a competent job. Lastly, a women would be nice, but sex should not be be consideration. I want to live a society where sex and race are not issues (positive or negative).

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