BREAKING NEWS: SUNDAY'S FREEMAN ENDORSEMENT
I'm pulling the wind out of the sails of the Freeman and publishing this early becasue this endorsement shows how out of touch the Daily Freeman is with it's readers and with Ulster County. Their endorsement of Jim Quigley is based on the fact that they are endorsing Mike Hein. This is right up there with why they pulled their endorsement from Sennett because they were scared they would not have access to the DA's office under his administration.
You endorse a candidate based on their qualifications for the job, plain and simple. To not endorse Auerbach because they endorsed a Democrat for Executive is just stupid and short sided. Jim Quigley has 0 experience overseeing government and is simply unqualified and too partisan to be the watchdog of Ulster County.
No wonder why The Freeman is on the verge of bankruptcy and their circulation continues to decline. Is it true it is cheaper to buy their stock than it is to buy the actual paper??
Hein and Quigley
ULSTER COUNTY voters already have ratified the theory of charter government as a more efficient and accountable form of governance. On Nov. 4, they will elect two candidates who, more than anyone else, will put the theory to the test.
Citizens will choose their first county executive and comptroller, each to be elected by a countywide ballot and directly accountable to the voters. This is a change of no small import.
To this point, Ulster County governance has depended on a part-time Legislature and a county administrator it appoints. In practice, this has meant a government dominated by the legislative leaders elected by the majority party.
For such a large and complex undertaking as county governance, that form of political organization probably never made sense. It established a legislative government without executive counterweight, since the executive branch was simply the handmaiden to legislative leaders. Moreover, it raised up leaders who were not directly beholden to all of the voters. Accountability was, at best, diffuse.
In practice, it was a prescription for disaster, as the planning and construction of the Ulster County Law Enforcement Center - years late and tens of millions of dollars over budget - so sadly illustrated. No single official had nor took responsibility for the project.
Out of that outrage came the reformulation of county government under a charter.
THE TOP person in this new government will be the county executive, vested with a range of powers and charged with the responsibility of running the day-to-day operations of the executive branch. Among the powers and responsibilities of an elected executive are long-term planning, keeping a tight handle on spending, nominating the heads of departments and holding the power to veto county legislation.
But there's also a lot of potential responsibility that falls between the formal lines of the charter and that's one reason this first election is so important.
First and foremost, the residents of Ulster County will be looking to the new county executive to provide the economic leadership that has been so sorely lacking. While surrounding counties such as Greene, Dutchess and Orange have been busy remaking themselves in this new century,
Ulster has languished as an economic backwater.
We believe Michael Hein, the county administrator since 2006 and deputy treasurer for three years before that, is the best candidate for the job. Hein, a Democrat who comes with a banking background, has made a convincing start at putting effective institutional safeguards into place that will make unlikely a recurrence of the Law Enforcement Center fiasco.
Hein, 43, says the Ulster County Development Corp. has failed in its mission to attract jobs and proposes to link the agency with the county's Tourism Department and Small Business Development Center to reduce county costs, but amplify and unify the county's voice to the business world.
Len Bernardo, a registered member of the Independence Party, is a town of Rochester resident and owner of Skate Time 209, a roller rink in Accord. He previously was in private business in New York City, founding and owning a small business form printing and distribution company.
Bernardo, 53, also is critical of the performance of the Ulster County Development Corp., but is less persuasive that he has a plan to refocus the county's efforts.
Furthermore, a candidate who challenges his opponent, as Bernardo did, to reduce the county property tax levy by 33 percent, but who is then unable to say with any specificity how he would accomplish such a thing, seriously undermines his own campaign. Knowing what you're talking about when it comes to the county budget is no small part of the job.
VOTERS will also select a comptroller, who will be the county's chief financial watchdog, with accounting responsibilities and the power to audit county departments and agencies that contract with the county.
Two solid candidates are vying for the position of comptroller.
Democrat Elliott Auerbach, 56, is a former mayor of Ellenville and the current village manager. He holds a business degree in economics from Hofstra University. He knows about both the politics of getting things done and the nitty-gritty of keeping things running.
Republican James Quigley, 51, is a Kingston resident and a certified public accountant with a master's degree in accounting from SUNY Albany. He is a partner and chief financial officer for Rothschild Realty Managers LLC of New York City. He may be summarized as "a numbers guy."
In our view, Quigley gets the nod. Not only are his technical skills superbly suited for the job, but we like the prospect of Republican oversight of the finances of a county whose electorate and, therefore, its slate of elected officials have been steadily trending Democratic. All the more so because we are endorsing a Democrat for county executive.