Q&A with Aspiring Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan

In less than a month, Rosendale resident Pat Ryan will represent Democrats in a special election to determine the Ulster County (UC) Executive for the remainder of the year. 

While at first it seemed that Ryan would run unopposed all the way to the executive spot, the path is no longer so clear. According to The Daily Freeman, the UC GOP nominated Conservative Party Chairman Jack Hayes, a former town supervisor and county legislator, to face-off against Ryan in the April 30 election. Although Ryan received the endorsement of the UC Democratic Committee, he may face challenges from within his own party come the primary election on June 25. 

Ryan’s résumé is distinct from his Republican competitor in that he has no experience serving as an elected official in public office. His first major introduction to the political sphere came during his successful campaign to represent NY-19 in congress. 

However, Ryan attributes his ability to lead from his diverse experiences in multiple fields of his professional life. He is a graduate of West Point Military Academy and served on two tours to Iraq. He was also the senior vice president of a intelligence gathering software company, Dataminr, and founded Praescient Analytics, who develops software used to protect military troops overseas. 

The New Paltz Oracle interviewed Ryan to gather more insight on his views and outline his goals if he wins the upcoming special election. 

When asked why he thought the UC Democratic Committee endorsed his candidacy, Ryan attributed it to his ambitious reforms including a county-wide conversion to renewable energy, finding alternative pathways for drug incarceration and promoting economic growth. 

“One major factor was my vision for how to take the county forward. I laid out a really bold but realistic and kind of aggressive agenda. 

“What I think is equally important is my leadership experience and the executive experience to actually implement that vision. My military experience, as an army officer, taught me to lead diverse people in high-stakes situations and make decisions under pressure. I also started my own technology company which grew to over 150 people and a $25 million a year business where we actually took care of our employees with a paid family leave program before really anyone else.”

How do you plan on funding your ambitious environmental plan: The Green New Deal (GND)?

“At the federal level I think we’re going to see more and more legislation and funding to support green job creations which is something I want us to be positioned to take advantage of. On the county level, if we can help people finance, for example, upgrading the insulation in their home, and it will actually drive cost savings.

“We will end up running a much more efficient energy system. It’s just going to require the government assisting that transition and it will be a bit risky.”

Are you worried about potential negative economic impacts on pre-existing energy agencies such as Central Hudson?

“No, I actually think that these companies are going to have to change the way they’re doing business and that many of these companies have already started to help make these transitions. 

“If you look at green jobs and green tech jobs in New York they are growing faster than the average job growth rate.

“I believe we can increase jobs which is a big reason of why I think this is such an exciting concept.”

Are environmental issues the County’s top priority? Ryan feels that investing in green infrastructure is vital to the future development within the county. 

“[If we don’t invest in green jobs and technology] we are just going to keep getting into this cycle of people not being able to afford to live here because they’re not making enough money to pay the increasing cost of living, including housing, healthcare, taxes, so on and so forth. 

“Making sure, at the county level, we’re making those foundational investments in infrastructure, education and in our energy systems.”

What policies would you implement to improve transparency and ethics within Ulster County?

“I will continue to honor my promise, once elected, to refuse any campaign donations from corporate entities. I think we need to get money out of out politics and actually give a voice to the people who live here.

“One example is increasing the sharing of government data and operations in a more accessible way for researchers and the general public who want to understand what is happening in the budget.”

How do you respond to criticism regarding your lack of experience in public office? 

“I have not specifically worked in Ulster County Government, which is why I want to lean on the fantastic team of people that are in county government to catch me up to speed.

“[I think it’s a] healthy process to bring in someone who has leadership experience from many angles, understands public policy equally, brings a fresh perspective and helps bring new ideas for the county.” 

According to the UC Board of elections, the general election will be held on Nov. 5, although the early voting polls will be open on Oct. 26. The Republican primary election date still has yet to be determined.