Ulster County Executive Mike Hein was born and raised in Ulster County. From his childhood on the family farm in Esopus to his days in New Paltz public schools he has learned the importance of integrity, education, and a strong work ethic. After graduating from college he returned to Ulster County where he resides with his wife of 26 years, Christine, and their son.
As the county’s first County Executive, Mike Hein has defined this office as one of action, balancing both fiscal and social responsibilities in a way that has protected taxpayers, created jobs, streamlined County government, preserved our pristine environment, and protected our quality of life. Mike has built a career in the private and public sector as a take-charge, solution driven leader who delivers results.
And the results have been extraordinary. Ulster County has been named as one of the most environmentally responsible governments in the Country, with 100% of its electricity coming from renewable resources and having earned a net carbon neutral designation. He has created model programs to end homelessness among Veterans and brought a community college satellite to the City of Kingston, expanding access to higher education for everyone. The truly unique fact about Mike is that he has accomplished so much while still lowering taxes and creating more private sector jobs. He has also been recognized by the Council of Industries – the manufacturer’s association for the Hudson Valley – as a Manufacturing Champion.
Mike’s economic development agenda has included a private sector job retention program, as well as a major job creation effort that produced 335 new private sector jobs. To improve our infrastructure, Mike secured $27 million in federal stimulus funds for infrastructure, public transit and alternative energy projects throughout the County, as well as securing $8.3 million for the repaving of Route 28. Most recently, Mike spearheaded the most comprehensive upgrade to Ulster County’s infrastructure in its history. An unprecedented $15 million was invested to redesign, repair, and improve numerous County bridges and more than 83 miles of County roads in 2015 – that’s almost 20% of all County roads in a single year.
Mike has made tax relief and more cost-effective government a top priority. To protect Ulster County’s taxpayers in his first year in office, his administration cut $6 million in costs from the County’s 2009 budget and significantly reduced spending. Since then, he has continued to smartly reduce spending without layoffs or cuts in service and property taxpayers have been the beneficiaries – three straight years of declining County Property Taxes.
First elected during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, Mike went right to work fixing a broken government and restoring Ulster’s economy all while leading the County to recovery through the unprecedented natural disasters of Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy. Mike’s effective leadership has earned him consistent recognition as a different kind of elected official – one focused on results and developing pragmatic and creative solutions to the problems facing governments today. For his work, in November 2014 he was named one of nine Public Officials of the Year by GOVERNING Magazine – the nation’s premier publication covering politics and policy for state and local government leaders; Mike was the only County Executive in America and the only elected official in the State of New York on that list. He was also honored with the 2014 Visionary Leadership Award from the Walkway Over the Hudson, due in part to his vision to create a world-class rail trail linking the breathtaking views of the Walkway to the beauty of the pristine Ashokan Reservoir.
A longtime advocate for our Veterans, Mike believes that we must support those who have sacrificed so much for our country. With homelessness of Veterans on the rise, Mike created the Ulster County Patriots Project, providing shelter and services to help homeless Veterans get back on their feet.
After being elected by his peers to serve as the president of the New York State County Executives Association in 2013, County Executive Hein toured the state to share innovative ideas and bring leaders together to develop solutions to common problems. His effort spurred the invaluable Municipal Innovation Exchange, a database of more than 2,000 innovations, ideas and examples which serves as a valuable resource for municipal leaders across the state. It was this type of forward-thinking that led to an invitation to speak at the Harvard School of Government in December 2014 at a conference hosted by the National Association of Counties, an entity that has bestowed its Achievement Award on the County Executive for six consecutive years.
Mike Hein has been repeatedly recognized as a leader in the effort to save taxpayers money and make County government more efficient, accountable and results-oriented. He sees a future for Ulster County with a strong and sustainable economy and a healthy environment: a community that is the perfect place to live, work, play – and raise a family.