Strong enters excutive race
Kingston resident becomes second Democrat to declare candidacy
City resident Patrice Courtney Strong is running for Ulster County executive, becoming the latest Democrat and first woman to eye the post being vacated by Democrat Michael Hein.
Strong officially announced her candidacy Saturday during an event at Artbar Gallery on Broadway in Midtown Kingston. She said she intends to seek both the Democratic and Working Families lines on the ballot in the upcoming special election for the job.
Strong, who lost a bid for a state Senate this past fall, and fellow Democrat Pat Ryan, a Gardiner resident who sought the area’s Democratic congressional nomination last year, are the only declared candidates for county executive. Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach, also a Democrat, and former county Legislature Chairman Ken Ronk, a Republican, have said they are considering running. Among other Democrats, Kingston Mayor Steve Noble said Friday that he won’t run; and Kerhonkson resident Gareth Rhodes, another unsuccessful congressional candidate, considered getting into the race but said Friday that he will not. Hein has been nominated by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to be the next commissioner of the state Office of Temporary and Disability Services, and the state Senate could confirm the appointment as early as this coming week.
Hein has said he will stay on as county executive, a job he’s held for 10 years, until his state appointment takes effect. Once he leaves, a special election for county executive must be held within 90 days. The job then will be on the ballot again in November, because 2019 is a county executive election year.
Strong is an environmental consultant and owner of Courtney Strong Inc. In the early 1990s, she worked as a district coordinator for state Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, D-Kingston.
“For the past 15 years, I’ve had a small business based in Kingston that works regionally to help business institutions [and] homeowners save energy and save money,” she said.
She ran last year for the state Senate seat in New York’s 46h District but lost to incumbent Republican George Amedore by a margin of about 57-43 percent.
Strong lauded Hein’s tenure as county executive and in particular his efforts regarding environmental and social justice issues, and she said she would “continue and expand what his team has been doing to move our county forward.”
Strong said she’s “received a tremendous amount of positive feedback from women and men who have noted it would be very positive to have a woman in the county executive seat.”
Hein was elected Ulster County’s first executive in 2008, after the new county charter took effect. He was re-elected in 2011, after an initial three-year term, and again in 2015.
The county charter puts the executive in charge of the day-to-day operations of the county and gives him broad authority to act. Because of how soon the special election to fill Hein’s seat must be held, there will be no party primaries. Rather, the candidates will be chosen by the county’s political party committees.
Hein is to be succeeded on an interim basis by Deputy County Executive Adele Reiter. She will serve until the winner of the special election takes over.
Patrice Courtney Strong