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As she is sworn in, Ulster County Executive Jen Metzger says residents must work together to solve crises

Jen Metzger at Election Night victory party
Jesse King
Jen Metzger at Election Night victory party

Former New York state Senator Jen Metzger was sworn in Monday as the new Ulster County Executive.

Metzger won November’s special election to serve out the remainder of Pat Ryan’s term. Ryan, a fellow Democrat, is now in Congress, representing New York’s 18th district. The term runs through the end of the year.  

At Monday’s ceremony in Rosendale, Metzger said the county faces many daunting challenges.  

“A climate crisis, housing affordability, crisis, mental health and addiction crises. And we have way too many households who are struggling to pay the bills month to month,” she said. “But every crisis creates an opportunity for positive change and creative solutions that wouldn't otherwise see the light of day. And I believe we are in that moment. As I said during the campaign a lot, we all have the building blocks right here in Ulster County to create a sustainable, resilient, thriving local community and economy that leaves no one behind.”

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado were among those on hand for Metzger’s swearing-in.  

Delgado, a former Hudson Valley Congressman, applauded Metzger’s bipartisan work in the state Senate, where Metzger served one term starting in 2019. Delgado, also a Democrat, reflected on his own swearing-in for a full term Sunday in Albany.  

“I was incredibly grateful and I almost felt this sort of outpour from within of just gratitude for being able to be in this moment in this time,” he said. “I imagine you’re going to feel something similar just by the energy and the love that is in this room. It is electric and I just hope that you continue to bottle it up. Because it does get hard. This is not easy work. Anybody who thinks otherwise isn’t really about the work.”

Ulster County Legislature Chair Tracey Bartels reminded the audience that Metzger’s role is a relatively new one.  

“In 2009, the first county executive was elected. I remind you of this history to also remind you that we are in our infancy. Today, the county executive is the face of Ulster County government. It's a position that has no prescribed hours, and arguably no time off. It's impossible to overstate how all-encompassing it is. It takes a special kind of person to even want to do this job,” Bartels said.

When Ryan left for Washington, Metzger won the support of county Democrats, including from Ryan, to succeed him. She went on to defeat Republican Ulster Town Supervisor Jim Quigley in November.  

On Monday, Metzger thanked fellow elected officials, area schools and colleges, and local business representatives.  

“You are the threads that hold in the fabric of our community together, you really are. And you’re critical partners in addressing every challenge that we face,” Metzger said. “I'm deeply humbled and grateful for this opportunity to serve as your county executive. There is no end to what we can accomplish if we work together.”

A lifelong resident of the Capital Region, Ian joined WAMC in late 2008 and became news director in 2013. He began working on Morning Edition and has produced The Capitol Connection, Congressional Corner, and several other WAMC programs. Ian can also be heard as the host of the WAMC News Podcast and on The Roundtable and various newscasts. Ian holds a BA in English and journalism and an MA in English, both from the University at Albany, where he has taught journalism since 2013.