Having created the position of Ulster County executive, voters now have to decide what kind of person they need to do the job right from the start.
They have that person in Mike Hein, whose record as administrator provides a clear and compelling case for his ability to manage bureaucracy, work with legislators and attract new business. It doesn't hurt that he is a county native who speaks eloquently about the quality of life he wants to preserve and protect.
Hein and his opponent, Len Bernardo, have run a spirited campaign, trading charges and stopping just this side of nasty. What that noise has sometimes obscured is the basic agreements the two have on the financial challenges facing the county, which are substantial, and the necessity of creating more jobs.
Cut through the details about tax breaks for Bernardo's business and it is clear from his own answers that he has been able to take advantage of a weak system, one that he and Hein agree cries out for supervision, standards and enforcement. Bernardo's attempts to link Hein to the county's many well-publicized fiscal disasters, especially the unforgivable blunders associated with the county jail project, fall apart when he admits that Hein was a whistle-blower but could have done it a bit more loudly.
Focus on the details of the new job and the differences between the two are obvious. Hein has several years of experience working with the people, both supporters and opponents, who will be essential for success. Bernardo has neither that experience nor any clear plans to make up for the lack of it. If Hein is elected, as he should be, he will have an easy transition because he has handled much of the detail and shown much of the leadership that the county will need.