A “political animal” to both friends and adversaries, Torres was interested in getting involved in the 2018 congressional primary. The question was, which one of six Democrats competing for the nomination? His connection to Patrick Ryan was more about serendipity.
“I had talked privately with each of the candidates announced at that point, Pat Ryan was last,” he said. “Quite frankly, mostly on perception, I was not prepared to like Pat, you know, the military background, things like that.
“We agreed to meet after a town board meeting in New Paltz, around 10 o’clock. He was an hour late, kind of annoying. We talked until after one o’clock, I think. I liked him. There was a connection.”
Ryan, who lives in nearby Gardiner, brought Torres on staff as his political director. The pair were rarely separated during a grueling primary campaign where Ryan finished a strong second to Antonio Delgado of Rhinebeck. When Hein announced in early January that he was leaving county government, Torres was one of the first people he called before announcing for county executive.
Hectic transition – Torres said the last few weeks of transition between the Reiter and Ryan administrations have been hectic, but productive. “My job has been getting people in the same room at the same time with Pat and Adele,” he said.
Torres said Ryan, who will be formally sworn into office on June 7, has asked each department head to prepare a two-page summary of strengths, issues and mission of their department and that he intends to speak individually with each one.
“Pat was criticized during the special election for a lack of experience in county government,” Torres said. “His experience as an executive in the private sector aside, I think that’s a positive. It’s a new set of eyes with new ideas that doesn’t owe anybody.”
Seemingly, Torres does not dwell on past unpleasantness. “We’re grateful to Adele for helping with this effort,” he said. “She has been very gracious.” He did not mention that Reiter, as Hein’s former chief of staff and closest confidant, probably played a key role in his ouster in 2016.
Ahead lies another campaign, as Ryan, after winning a special election in April to fill out this last year of Hein’s term, will run as the Democratic nominee in November for a full four-year term.
Reflective on his 30th year just begun, Torres’ advice to other young people interested in politics is to literally “step up and stay connected.”
“Meet as many people as you can. Volunteer,” he says. “And take the long view, stay involved. These are the most exciting times in our lives, our time.”