by Jesse J. Smith

Pat Ryan scored a decisive victory in his bid to become Ulster’s next county executive when the county’s Democratic Committee handed him the nomination and a spot on the ballot in an upcoming special election. In weighted voting at the Best Western in Kingston, Ryan beat out fellow Democrat Pat Courtney Strong 16,117 to 11,660.

The nomination means that Ryan will be the Democratic candidate in a special election to fill out the remainder of former County Executive Mike Hein’s term, which ends on Dec. 31. Hein resigned earlier this month to take a post as the commissioner of the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. A general election on Nov. 5 will elect a county executive for a full four-year term. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not set a date for the special election; according to the county charter, the election must be held no later than May 8.

Ryan is a 36-year-old graduate of the U.S. Military Academy who served two tours in Iraq as a battalion intelligence officer. He was a senior vice president of Dataminr, a technology company that produces intelligence-gathering software, and founded Praescient Analytics, which provides software used by the military to protect troops overseas. He no longer works for either company.

Last year, he was a runner-up in a seven-way primary for the 19th Congressional District seat currently occupied by Democrat Antonio Delgado. Ryan is a Kingston native who currently resides in Gardiner.

He faced a challenge from Strong, a 63-year-old Kingston businesswoman with a background in green energy. In 2018 Strong ran an unsuccessful campaign against state Senator George Amedore (R-Rotterdam). Following Wednesday’s vote, Strong declined to rule out or rule in a primary campaign against Ryan for the Democratic Party line in the November general election.

“Unknown at this point, unknown,” said Strong when asked if she would compete in the June 25 primary. The name of former Woodstock town supervisor Jeff Moran, who says he will run in the primary, was not placed in nomination at the convention.

Ryan meanwhile invoked Ulster County Democrats’ triumphant 2018 campaign season while outlining a progressive vision for the county’s future. “We’re going to harness that energy that we brought out in 2018 and we’re seeing so far and the message that we’ve had in this campaign of environmental justice, of social justice of economic justice,” said Ryan. We need to take that message to every corner and every one of the 24 towns and villages and municipalities in this count.”

Along with Ryan, The Democratic Committee endorsed two other candidates for countywide office. Facing no opposition, attorney Bryan Rounds of the Town of Ulster was nominated for County Court judge while another veteran of the 2018 congressional primary, trial attorney David Clegg of Woodstock, was nominated for district attorney. The Ulster County Republican Committee will meet on Saturday, Feb. 23 to choose their candidates for the 2019 election season.

Original Article