Ulster County Exec Pat Ryan Wins Handily; DA Race Is Neck And Neck
Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan easily won Tuesday’s election. And there’s an apparent winner in the county comptroller race, but the contest for district attorney hangs in the balance.
Democrat Pat Ryan defeated Republican Jack Hayes in a rematch of April’s special election.
“And I’m really excited to have four years ahead of us to work on protecting our environment, really driving equitable economic growth, tackling the opioid epidemic and more,” Ryan says.
Ryan delivered his victory speech at the same spot as in April: Keegan Ales in Kingston.
“If you govern inclusively, if you lead inclusively, if you go out and hold town halls in every single town in your county, and we held 24 town halls in less than 24 weeks in my first kind of, whatever you want to call it, mini-term that we had; if you do that, then you win inclusively, then you build the momentum behind you to not just advance priorities of any particular party — and I am a proud Democrat and I’m proud of the vision that we laid out that I think is a bold, progressive vision — but, in doing so, we communicated this vision to a wide group of people in this county and built support for it, which is how we need to get out of the situation that we’re in in our country right now,” Ryan says.
Shortly before midnight, there were still 16 districts out of 163 left to report in the countywide races. And not all ballots had been counted for all county legislature seats, where the outcome could flip the body to Democratic control. And Democratic district attorney candidate Dave Clegg held a less than 2 percent lead, 819 votes, over Republican chief assistant district attorney Michael Kavanagh, as of around midnight, when Clegg addressed supporters. He said it looked as if the race would come down to absentee ballots.
“I’ve been here for the last 40 years, by the way, working in our community to make it a better place,” Clegg says. “And I hope I have the chance to do that as your next district attorney. Thank you.”
It turns out a medical emergency at the Ulster County Board of Elections had halted the ballot counting late Tuesday. Democratic County Board of Elections Commissioner Ashley Dittus says her staff member is fine after a trip to the ER and is resting at home. The counting resumed Wednesday morning. Plus, 2,074 absentee ballots must be counted; 3,602 had been issued. And there are affidavit ballots.
“And then we have notified our candidates, our political parties and the public that we will be counting the paper ballots on November 18th starting at 10 a.m.,” Dittus says.
“So, Steve, little known fact, Steve and I are high school classmates, as is Andrea Shaut,” Ryan says. “So the Kingston High School Class of 2000 is in the house.”
Andrea Shaut is the first woman elected in the 252-year Kingston council president history.
“We have some amazing projects in the pipeline that I really wanted to be able to see come to fruition, whether it’s our Broadway project or our sidewalk projects on Henry Street and Franklin Street,” says Noble. “So we have major infrastructure projects.”
Kingston Mayor Steve Noble fended off challenges from Ellen DiFalco, a registered Democrat who served as secretary for former Democratic Mayor Shayne Gallo. DiFalco ran on the Republican and Independence lines. Vince Rua ran on the SAM line, which was born from the Serve America Movement.
Democrat March Gallagher is the apparent comptroller winner over Lisa Cutten, who ran on the Republican ticket after the Ulster County Democratic Committee chose Gallagher over Cutten for the party line. Gallagher most recently served as president and CEO of Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley.
“I know I want to look at the risk assessment tool right away, which is a tool that’s used to decide what areas you’re going to audit each year. And what we use right now was developed by Elliot, and I want to look at what the state recommends,” Gallagher says. “And I’m also going to be working with the county executive and the legislature to see if there are areas they want me to prioritize but, for me, a big focus is going to be transparency of data and financial information. It’s very hard as a taxpayer or business to know exactly what is going on with Ulster County’s finances.”
The comptroller post opened when Democrat Elliot Auerbach left in May to work in the state comptroller’s office. Auerbach was the county’s first comptroller, and Democrat Mike Hein, the first county executive, both for a decade. Hein left earlier this year for a position in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration. Democrat Bryan Rounds will become the next county court judge. He succeeds Republican Don Williams, who did not seek re-election.