After a decade in the post, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein will be stepping down for a job in New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration. WAMC’s Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Allison Dunne spoke with Hein just after word got out Friday afternoon.
Hein, a Democrat, is the county’s first executive, and has been in the post since 2009, following a change in the county charter that created the position. His third term would have run through the end of this year. Cuomo has nominated Hein to lead the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.
“It really has been an incredible honor to be nominated by Governor Cuomo to lead such a critical agency at a pivotal time in our history,” Hein says. “I’m deeply passionate about helping those among us most in need. We’ve shown that here in Ulster County. And I’m also just as excited to be able to help move Governor Cuomo’s highly progressive agenda forward, and that really is what this is all about, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Hein says he’ll leave the county in a far better and sustainable place than at any time in its history.
“We’ve worked extremely hard locally to be able to transform county government. When I came into government, it was severely broken, and I was hired by the people of Ulster County to fix the broken government,” says Hein. “And I’m proud to say that, right now, more services are available than ever before; taxes are lower than they were 10 years ago; and our unemployment rate’s at the lower level in 20 years. So, again, it’s because of an incredible group of people that I’ve had the privilege of working with, and I look forward to tackling this new challenge.”
Hein, who had considered and then ruled out a run for the 19th congressional district seat in 2016, must be confirmed by the state Senate, now in Democratic control. Hein says he does not know when he will take on the new role. A Cuomo spokesman says Hein is currently going through the appointments process and his start date is to be determined.
Across the Hudson River, Republican Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro offered his congratulations, saying he is grateful for the collaborative, bipartisan relationship with Hein that will now benefit residents statewide. Former state Assemblyman Sam Roberts became OTDA commissioner in 2015.