Ulster County Democrats will convene in Kingston next week to endorse a candidate for county executive and dozens of other local offices. The convention is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. at the Best Western on Washington Avenue.
The most closely watched ballot will be the three way contest for county executive. Due to Ulster County Executive Mike Hein’s resignation to take a job in the Cuomo administration and a quirk in the county charter, the Ulster County Democratic Committee — rather than a primary election — will determine who will compete to fill the final months of Hein’s term. With as yet no Republican candidate in the race, Democratic Party officials could next week effectively appoint the next county executive.
Former Woodstock town supervisor Jeff Moran, security tech entrepreneur and former 19th Congressional District candidate Pat Ryan and Kingston businesswoman and former state Senate candidate Pat Strong are all seeking the nomination. Deputy County Executive Marc Rider was also running, but ended his campaign Monday and endorsed Ryan. No Republican candidate has yet come forward; the GOP has its gathering set for Feb. 23.
Democratic and Republican county committee leaders have called on Cuomo to cancel the special election calling it both a waste of about $375,000 in election costs and undemocratic, since party officials and not rank-and-file party members will select the candidate. If Cuomo heeds the request, the election could proceed to a June 25 primary, should opposing candidates gather the requisite petition signatures and a November general election. Otherwise, the special election will take place within 90 days of February 11.
About 300 Democratic committee members representing local committees from Ulster County’s 20 towns are expected to cast ballots at the convention. Nominees will receive the party’s stamp of approval, and the organizing muscle that goes with it, but may still be challenged for the party line in a primary.
Along with the county executive, the committee is expected to support Kingston lawyers Bryan Rounds for county court judge and Dave Clegg for district attorney. The convention will also designate candidates for the county legislature and town elected offices, though those chosen may still be challenged in primaries by candidates gathering petitions . Ulster County Democratic Committee Chair Frank Cardinale sounded confident that county Democrats would continue the momentum of the 2018 campaign season.
“The town committees and the [Democratic activist] Indivisible groups are already out there organizing,” said Cardinale. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm this year.”
Reiter sworn in
Following Mike Hein’s resignation as the only county executive Ulster’s ever known, his designated successor, chief of staff Adele Reiter, took her oath of office Monday morning in Kingston.
According to a release from Reiter’s office, county clerk Nina Postupack administered Reiter’s oath at the county office building before a gathering of department heads and deputies from across county government.
In a statement to the media, Reiter said she was “deeply honored and humbled” to assume the post and would work to “[uphold] the legacy of strong fiscal leadership and compassionate social progress that were the hallmarks of County Executive Hein’s tenure in office.”
Since moving to Ulster in 1982, Reiter has practiced law in the healthcare field, in private practice and as deputy corporation counsel for the City of Kingston and deputy county treasurer. Hein’s first appointment was to name Reiter as deputy county executive, and was chosen by Hein to serve as chief of staff.
Hein has been named the acting director of the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, pending confirmation by the state Senate.
With additional reporting by Dan Barton