Elliott Auerbach and James Quigley want to be the county's first comptroller, the position that will replace the treasurer and will be responsible for auditing the books. Both should be able to run a nine-person, $510,000 department. Quigley is a CPA, and that should accrue to his benefit. Auerbach is a current village manager, familiar with municipal finance and good with people, and that should accrue to his benefit. This one is a tough call, but we'll endorse Auerbach as able to watch where the money goes while listening to the people it goes to and comes from.
The campaign for Ulster County's first executive has been something of a disappointment. And yet, if county voters elect Democrat Michael Hein we will likely get the person we need - the guy who will conduct the necessary work to set up the office of executive, who will watch the budget and count the beans, who can put all the pieces in place. These will be the primary tasks of the first county executive. We could argue that it is not necessary to elect a great political visionary for the county, first because we don't appear to have one, and second because organization could be a greater key to this first term. It's a complicated office, there's a new administrative code to be followed and a relationship to be built between executive and legislature.
Len Bernardo is not the man for this task. It's a nuts and bolts time and his grasp of the situation is lacking. Running a government is quite different from running a private business, where his expertise lies.
Hein never struck us as an ideal candidate - he switched parties, came up with too much familiarity with the old power structure in the county, and is making a novice's run at office. But his experience as county administrator gives him a leg up on knowing what desks have to go where and that should suffice for a first term.