Patrick Ryan was sworn in as Ulster County executive on Friday, June 7, marking the first transition of power since the office was established a decade ago. State comptroller Thomas DiNapoli administered the oath of office to the 37-year-old former Army officer in a standing-room-only ceremony at the Ulster County courthouse on Wall Street in Kingston. The ceremony took place five weeks after Ryan, a Democrat, defeated Ulster County Conservative Party chairman Jack Hayes in a special election to fill the remainder of the term of former county executive Mike Hein. Hein resigned in February to take a post as New York State Commissioner of Temporary and Disability Assistance.
The event was held before an audience of more than 300 elected officials, county employees and well-wishers. Among those in attendance were lieutenant governor Kathy Hochul, longtime Kingston assemblymember Kevin Cahill, state senator Jen Metzger and Republican Dutchess County executive Marc Molinaro. Sheriff Juan Figueroa served as the event’s host.
Ryan graduated from West Point in 2004 and served two tours in Iraq leading an infantry battalion intelligence section. After leaving the Army, Ryan obtained a graduate degree in security studies from Georgetown University and went to work in the field of security and intelligence technology. He later founded two companies, Praescient Analytics and Second Front Systems, that produced intelligence gathering and analysis software for military and law-enforcement use.
Ryan and his wife Rebecca moved from Manhattan to Gardiner in 2016. In 2017, he entered what would eventually become a seven-way Democratic primary to unseat incumbent Republican congressman John Faso. Ryan was runner-up in the June 2018 primary. But he was able to use his campaign structure, and name recognition to launch a strong campaign for the executive’s seat following Hein’s announcement that he was stepping down.
At Friday’s ceremony, Hochul praised Ryan as one of a generation of youths inspired to military service by the 9/11 terror attacks who would go on to bring qualities tried and tested on distant battlefields to bear in public service back home. “That’s where values and leadership skills are steeled,” Hochul said. “And you’re bringing that back.”
DiNapoli called Ryan “a visionary” and praised his decision to step away from his career in the tech sector to devote himself to public service. “He will create a vision for this county that is inclusive,” said DiNapoli. “That will make this a better community, a more equitable community.”
Green New Deal
In his own remarks, Ryan reiterated his progressive vision for an economy built around green technology and dedicated to ensuring that its poorest residents reap the benefits of economic growth. Ryan used the speech to tout his proposed “Green New Deal,” which would shift the county to 100 percent renewable energy while providing job training for county residents to participate in the expanding green-energy sector.
“We are going to implement a Green New Deal here in Ulster County,” said Ryan. “One, because we can no longer wait when it comes to our climate, and two, because we are perfectly positioned to be at the epicenter of this emerging green economy.”
Repeating another campaign pledge, Ryan vowed to bring more resources to bear fighting the opioid epidemic ravaging the county while revamping the local criminal-justice system with greater emphasis on concepts like restorative justice and rehabilitation over incarceration.
“We are already seen as a leader in redefining what justice means,” said Ryan. “And we are going to continue to build on that.”
Ryan said that he would kick off his term with a series of town-hall meetings across the county to seek input from residents as he begins his first major task, developing a county budget for 2020.
“I will work relentlessly, nonstop, for the people of this county,” said Ryan. “You can count on me, and you can hold me accountable.”