by Allison Dunne

With the announcement Friday that Ulster County Executive Mike Hein will be stepping down to take a position in New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration, a number of potential contenders are coming forward. Some campaigned for another office last year.

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 nominated Hein to lead the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. Now, a number of county residents say they are considering a run. And the runner-up among the seven Democratic candidates in last year’s 19th congressional district primary has declared he’s all in — Gardiner resident Pat Ryan.

“Well, I ‘m excited to be the first and, I think, the only candidate to declare, and I think that’s exactly the kind of leadership that’s expected in this role,” says Ryan. “I have a clear vision to lead us forward. I’m confident in that, and that’s why in pretty short order I wanted to make that known and get to work to get our message out and to get out there and listen to folks. And the response has just been incredible. A lot of the great support I had during the congressional campaign is still there and my phone’s been ringing off the hook with folks excited to volunteer and to support us.”

Ryan, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point who served as an Army officer in Iraq, says he will not accept any corporate PAC or LLC money. Within a few hours of Hein’s Friday announcement, another 19th congressional district Democratic primary candidate who finished behind Ryan by just some 50 votes, says he is seriously considering making a bid — Gareth Rhodes.

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