Chair of Legislature Pulver may run to lead county in ‘23

PINE PLAINS — Chairman of the Dutchess County Legislature Gregg Pulver (R-19), a multi-generational Pine Plains farmer and longtime local public servant, is considering stepping into the role now served by three-term Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro.

The popular Republican county executive is stepping away from the top county position to make a run for Congress with more than a year left in his term. Molinaro is campaigning for the seat formerly held by recently-appointed Lt. Governor Antonio Delgado.

Delgado steps up

Delgado, a Democrat, was the former U.S. representative for Congressional District 19. Governor Kathy Hochul appointed him to fill the vacancy left open when former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin resigned in disgrace after being arrested for fraud, bribery and falsification of records.

Delgado was sworn into office on May 25 and will appear on the Democratic primary ballot in the 2022 election for lieutenant governor.

Congressional District 19

That leaves plenty of room for the those seeking to land in Delgado’s former stomping grounds, like Molinaro, who will be running on the Republican and the Conservative Party primaries for District 19 on Aug. 23. Brandon Buccola is also running in the Republican primary for the seat.

Josh Riley, from a Harvard Law School grad from Endicott, N.Y., is running in the Democratic and the Working Families Party primaries while Jamie Cheney, a businesswoman and Millerton beef farmer, is running in the Democratic primary for District 19.

Pulver ponders top county position

Pulver, meanwhile, said he’s formed a committee to help him make the all-important decision, one he hopes to have finalized by August at the latest.

“I’m still slightly undecided; the support I’m getting, though, is overwhelming,” he said. “I have people calling me, and people that I certainly respect are encouraging me to run. We’re discussing it as a family and how it affects everything.”

The head of the Dutchess County Legislature said that his wife, Tonya, and his daughter have been encouraging him and offering him support.

“My wife has been very supportive, and my daughter loves the idea,” said Pulver. “I certainly would love to run. If I run as chairman of the Legislature it helps me represent the county.”

Pulver added once Molinaro steps down, his unexpired term will be filled by Deputy County Executive William O’Neill.

O’Neill is a Republican who has been a part the Molinaro administration for the past decade but has never actually been elected to serve in public office.

If Pulver decides to run, it would not be until the 2023 General Election. Yet there are benefits he’s already excited about when considering his decades in public service.

That career includes serving on his hometown of Pine Plains’ school district’s Board of Education (BOE) and in his town volunteering on its Conservation Advisory Council (CAC), its Board of Assessment Review (BAR), its Planning Board and also serving for 12 years as its town supervisor.

“I’ve been on this a long time working in the trenches,” said Pulver. “I’ve been active in the fire company, the rescue squad; I’ve done a lot. I’ve been on the National Ski Patrol for 39 years now; I’d have to curtail my involvement with that to a certain degree… And now I’ve really enjoyed getting around the county and meeting people, that’s another positive toward this.”

Yet throughout those many years of serving his community, Pulver has always only held two-year terms, he said.

“I’ve never had a four-year term — in anything,” he said. “Town supervisor was two years, and county legislator was two years. I would love to have a four-year term.”

Despite brief terms, Pulver keeps getting re-elected. He is now serving his ninth year in the Legislature representing District 19, which serves the towns of North East, Stanford, Pine Plains and Milan. He has also been elected by his fellow legislators to serve as chairman of the Legislature for the past five years.

“I’m very proud of the work we’ve done. Some of my peers are my strongest advocates getting me to try to run,” he said, adding, “I have the utmost respect for what Marcus has done for the last 11 years now as county executive; I think certainly him and I have worked well together for the last nine years and I think I’ve added to the success of Dutchess County. That’s what’s making me lean toward running.

“I’ve got a great record,” he added. “The best editorial I ever had was in The Millerton News. It said that once I start a project, I finish it.”

Pulver said he hopes his constituents will reach out to him about whether he should make a run for the county executive office. Voters are welcome to call his cell phone at 914-474-0908 or to email him at gpulver@dutchessny.gov.

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