by Patricia R. Doxsey

KINGSTON — Former Democratic congressional candidate Pat Ryan could be on his way to becoming the next Ulster County executive.

Ryan, of Gardiner, defeated fellow Democrat Pat Courtney Strong for the party nomination by a weighted vote of 16,117 to 11,616 during the Ulster County Democratic convention Wednesday evening at the Best Western Plus hotel on Washington Avenue in Kingston.

Ryan’s victory means he will hold the Democratic line in a special election that tentatively is planned for April 30 and will be the party’s nominee for the Democratic line in November’s general election.

Republicans are scheduled to hold their convention this coming Saturday, Feb. 23, though no one in the GOP has announced plans to run for county executive.

On Tuesday, Ken Ronk, the Ulster County Legislature’s minority leader, said the Democratic pick for the seat is likely to run unopposed in the special election.

Ryan, who finished second in last year’s seven-person Democratic primary in New York’s 19th Congressional District, promised Democratic committee members on Wednesday that, if elected county executive, he will continue to push the party’s “progressive agenda” of environmental, social and economic justice.

“There are too many people in this county that still worry about whether they’ll be able to make their rent this month, save enough to pay for their family’s health care,” he said. “We’ve got big corporations still seeking to come in and pollute our environment. We’ve got ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents still coming in and arresting our neighbors at the foot of their driveways while they’re getting their kids ready for school.

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