Pat Ryan scored a decisive victory — and claimed a mandate for a progressive county government — in Tuesday’s special election to fill the remainder of former county executive Mike Hein’s term.
By 11 p.m. with 158 of 163 election districts reporting, unofficial results showed the Democrat leading Ulster County Conservative Party Chairman Jack Hayes, running on the Republican line, by a margin of 11,707 votes to 4,077.
Celebrating his victory with family members and supporters at Kingston’s Keegan Ales, Ryan, raised in Kingston but now living in Gardiner, called the lopsided result an endorsement of his vision of a county government based on equitable economic development and a “Green New Deal” to put area residents to work in the renewable energy sector, while cutting and eventually ending local government’s reliance on fossil fuels.
“This is an incredible mandate to bring us forward with a progressive vision for this county,” said Ryan.
Ryan, who by law must take office within 30 days of the election, said the early days of his administration would focus on achieving a smooth transition and soliciting public opinion by way of town hall meetings in all 24 Ulster County municipalities. Ryan will also be responsible for developing a 2020 budget, something he said he planned to put together in close consultation with senior county administrators.
“I have to listen and learn from our department heads who have been doing great work,” said Ryan, who has never held elective office. “And then figure out how to integrate that with my vision.”
If Ryan wants to continue being county executive into 2020, he will have to win this November’s general election. Hayes, also of Gardiner, has said he will run for the post again this fall.