A divided Ulster County Legislature has voted 14-6 to hold a special election for county executive on April 30. Democrat Patrick Ryan of Gardiner is the only nominated candidate for that office. Unless a Republican Party committee on vacancies fields a candidate, Ryan will be elected county executive in April to complete Mike Hein’s term, ending on Dec. 31.
The parties will convene in June where former Woodstock Town supervisor Jeff Moran says he will challenge Ryan for the Democratic nomination. Ryan issued a statement shortly after the Tuesday night vote hailing the legislature’s bipartisan decision.
The Democratic majority, with votes from Republicans Kevin Roberts of Wallkill, Brian Woltman of Kingston, and Independent Heidi Haynes of Marbletown (who caucus’ with the republicans) carried the measure.
Debate during the 80-minute special session centered around the necessity for a special election, despite being required by charter, its cost, estimated at between $220,000 and $300,000, and that there would probably be a low turnout producing a cost of “maybe $8,000 per vote cast,” said minority leader Ken Ronk of Wallkill. Finance committee vice chairman Richard Gerentine of Marlboro said the county could probably save $115,000 in salary if the position of chief of staff, formerly held by acting executive Adele Reiter, is left vacant for the rest of the year. The county budget is $330 million.
“The charter requires a special election,” said majority leader Jonathan Heppner of Woodstock. “Republicans had the opportunity to name a candidate.”
Julius Collins of Ellenville, Herb Litts of Highland and Dean Fabiano of Saugerties were absent.