Tracey Bartels, chairwoman of the Ulster County Legislature, has called a special session for June 11 at 7:15 p.m. at SUNY-Ulster to appoint an interim county comptroller.
The vacancy occurred when former comptroller Elliott Auerbach resigned on May 16 to take a job as a deputy state comptroller. By charter, the legislature had between 20 and 30 days to name a replacement after Auerbach resigned.
Two Democrats, separately appointed by former executive Mike Hein. March Gallagher of Rosendale, a former economic development specialist in the Hein administration, and Lisa Cutten of Kingston, currently head of an internal auditing department created by Hein, have declared for the position. With Democrats holding a 12-11 majority in the legislature, no Republican has come forth.
It is considered unlikely that the legislature, which had been critical of Auerbach during his ten-year tenure, will endorse his choice of Evan Gallo, his deputy comptroller, as interim comptroller. Gallo, son of former Kinston Mayor Shane Gallo, has said he is not interested in running for the office.
Gallagher, an attorney, left county government several years ago for a position with Mid-Hudson Pattern for Progress. Cutten, a certified public accountant, is a former Republican, a record that may influence some Democratic legislators.
The legislature is free to choose anyone – Bartels herself was mentioned – which could bring other names into play. The legislature’s appointment will serve the remainder of this year. The candidate elected in November will serve the two years left in Auerbach’s term.
The legislature’s endorsement on June 11 will no doubt weigh heavily on Democratic committee members when they meet in convention in Rosendale on June 27 to choose a candidate for the general direction. There will be no primary.
Were Gallagher to be that candidate, she would have a clear path to the election in November. Republicans did not offer a candidate for county judge and lost badly in an April 30 special election for county executive. If they do not put forth a candidate of their own, they would be left with the choices of leaving the line vacant or endorsing the losing Democratic candidate for comptroller. It will be a busy month.