A New York County Executive Aims to Boost Service-Minded Candidates

When Pat Ryan campaigned for Congress in 2018, the West Point graduate got invaluable help from national groups dedicated to supporting veterans running for office.

Now, as the Ulster County executive, Mr. Ryan has formed a political-action committee to help nontraditional candidates break into politics. The Democratic executive said in a recent interview that the PAC, called ServeNY, has raised close to $300,000 and would be endorsing Democratic office seekers around New York. It will offer advice and financial assistance to veterans as well as first responders and other essential workers.

“People question whether the motivations of their elected officials are self-serving or selfless,” he said. “There needs to be more on-ramps for service-minded people to get into office.”

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The PAC’s first endorsements will go to Felicia Singh, a special-education teacher running for New York City Council in Queens; Sarah Klee Hood, an Air Force veteran running for town board in the Syracuse suburb of DeWitt; and Anthony Grice, a teacher and Newburgh City Council member who is running for Orange County clerk.

The PAC is also a way for Mr. Ryan, a Kingston, N.Y., native, to raise his profile and establish a network of allies beyond his Hudson Valley base. More endorsements are expected in coming weeks, he said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is politically vulnerable as he grapples with investigations into allegations of his acting inappropriately in the workplace and of his administration’s Covid-19 policies. Other Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi of Nassau County, have begun traveling the state in possible preparation for future runs for office.

Mr. Cuomo has said he is cooperating with the investigations and said his administration’s Covid-19 policies were intended to preserve hospital capacity. The governor has denied touching anyone inappropriately and apologized if his workplace behavior offended anyone.

Mr. Ryan said he didn’t know what his future would hold and was focused on his job in Ulster County. He just announced a “Green New Deal” plan that calls for purchasing electric vehicles for the county and weatherizing as many as 1,000 homes a year.

Ulster County is one of the first areas in the country to do a pilot project for guaranteed income. Mr. Ryan said 4,200 people have applied for 100 program slots, which will let them receive $500 a month for a full year. The program is funded by outside donations and administered by the University of Pennsylvania.

The New York State Museum in Albany remains closed with no projected reopening date.


Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

STILL CLOSED: As Mr. Cuomo relaxes coronavirus restrictions at indoor and outdoor venues around New York, the state Capitol—where the Democratic governor has his Albany office—still has no projected reopening date.

The five-story building normally teems with workers, visitors, lobbyists and people from around the state who come to see lawmakers on days when the state Assembly and Senate are in session.

While the Capitol is open to some employees, the public has been excluded since March 2020, when the coronavirus was first confirmed in New York. State lawmakers have adopted two budgets since that time and acted on laws to legalize recreational marijuana.

State Republican legislative leaders recently penned a letter to Mr. Cuomo’s general-services commissioner, RoAnn Destito, saying the closure of the Capitol was “outdated and unnecessary.”

New York’s general-services department has ‘started the planning process to reopen our buildings safely.’

— RoAnn Destito, general-services commissioner

“It is incumbent upon us as state leaders to make the seat of state government more accessible to those who wish to participate in the democratic process,” wrote the leaders, Assemblyman Will Barclay and Sen. Robert Ortt.

In a letter last week, Ms. Destito said her department had “started the planning process to reopen our buildings safely,” but she gave no estimated date for the reopening of the Capitol.

Mr. Cuomo has announced that capacity restrictions at restaurants, museums and other indoor venues will be lifted May 19, but people who haven’t been vaccinated against the virus will still have to observe social-distancing requirements.

The New York State Museum remains fully closed with no projected reopening date. A spokeswoman for the state Education Department, which operates the museum, said it was developing protocols and would release more information this week.

THE QUESTION: What city was the first capital of New York state?

Know the answer? Write me an email!

THE LAST ANSWER: New York’s current congressional district lines were drawn subject to a federal court proceeding by Magistrate Judge Roanne Mann, with advice from law professor Nathaniel Persily.

Write to Jimmy Vielkind at Jimmy.Vielkind@wsj.com

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Source: WSJ – US News

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