While the role of County Executive is in the process of being filled, it is not unmanned, but rather in the hands of a very capable woman.
On Feb. 11, Adele B. Reiter was sworn in as the Acting County Executive. The appointment came from former County Executive Michael P. Hein as he left the office to serve on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s third term administration where he will serve as the Commissioner of the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.
Reiter stood out as a prime procurator to oversee the responsibilities as she had worked with Hein since he was elected as the county’s first Executive back in 2008.
“Although many people only knew him as a tireless reformer and leader, those of us who were fortunate to work closely with County Executive Hein quickly learned that the source of his endless energy and enthusiasm is a deep and enduring commitment to public service,” Reiter said. “I learned from him how important it is to get our priorities straight – we serve all 180,000 plus residents of Ulster County, and we owe them our very best each and every day.”
According to the Ulster County Charter, “if the vacancy in the office of the County Executive occurs more than 180 days before the next general election, it shall be filled for the remainder of the unexpired term by a special election to be held no later than 90 days from the date the vacancy occurs,” hence the need for the special election which will take place on April 30. The election was approved in a Ulster County Legislator vote of 14-6.
Currently the only official candidate in the running for County Executive is Pat Ryan, who was endorsed by the Ulster County Democratic party. Ulster County Republicans were unsuccessful of recruiting someone for the bid but there is still time for an Independent to enter the race. However, time is fleeting.
The last official day for any potential candidates to file a certificate of nomination for a place on the ballot is March 11. No matter who is voted in, Reiter is committed to setting the next County Executive up for success further than the obligated 30-day transition period.
“That’s a relatively short time for a very large transition, so a lot of my attention right now is on making sure that the dedicated and experienced staff that make up our County workforce stay in place to keep doing what they do best delivering excellent services to our residents,” Reiter said.
The bar was set relatively high by Hein and his staff. For the past seven years, Ulster County citizens have seen their property taxes drop.
“I wish I could say it was simple and easy; it wasn’t,” Reiter said. “Every year, as we develop our Executive Budget, we agonize over where we can reduce costs without sacrificing the services that residents need and deserve. What we’ve learned – and this sounds obvious, but it’s actually quite hard in practice – is that you have to be creative and innovative in order to succeed.”
For the entirety of Hein’s control at the helm of the county’s expenses, he and his team not only cleared the field of the plain to see unnecessary expenses that weighed down taxpayer dollars, but had to get creative with their solutions. However, being able to generate new revenue for the county is another priority that will require maintaining if the next County Executive hopes to be successful.
“Not many people realize this, but the single largest source of revenue for Ulster County – and for most Counties – is our portion of NYS Sales Tax,” said Reiter. “With that in mind, we have always seen it as common sense to invest in our Tourism Department, since the more we can get the word out about how amazing Ulster County is to visit, the more our local businesses benefit, and the more sales tax we generate to support critical county services. It’s truly a win-win.”