Joseph Ruggiero has resigned as executive director of the New York State Bridge Authority and will run for Dutchess County executive this fall.

The Wappinger resident accepted the county Democratic Committee’s nomination for the post at its convention on Monday.

He presumably will face two-term Republican incumbent Marc Molinaro in the November election. Molinaro first was elected county executive in 2011 and was re-elected in 2015.

This will be Ruggiero’s second bid for Dutchess County’s top office. In 2007, he lost to then-incumbent Republican William Steinhaus by less than 2,000 votes out of nearly 60,000 cast.

Ruggiero “has used a visionary management style to successfully transform every office he’s held to meet the challenges of tomorrow,” said county Democratic Chairwoman Elisa Sumner. “This leadership is sorely needed in Dutchess County, where we deserve a full-time county executive who is honest about the problems facing our residents and focused on implementing real solutions.”

The “full-time county executive” comment appeared to be a reference to Molinaro spending most of 2018 as the Republican candidate for New York governor. He lost the governor’s race to incumbent Democrat Andrew Cuomo in November.

Ruggiero said that, as a lifelong resident of Dutchess County, he has “a full understanding of the challenges facing our residents.”

“I’ve been watching what has been going on in politics for the last couple of years, and I see we are in a political crisis in this country, and when people have the ability to act, we have a responsibility to act,” he said. “Whether it’s rising energy costs, increasing property taxes, a mounting county fiscal crisis or just making ends meet around the kitchen table, I know what families are dealing with in Dutchess County.”

Ruggiero is a former town of Wappinger supervisor and deputy state comptroller. Besides losing to Steinhaus in 2007, he ran unsuccessfully against then-state Assemblyman Joel Miller in 1996 and 2000.

Dutchess County Republican Committee Chairman Michael McCormack said Molinaro “is a proven leader who has shown his ability to work across party lines and deliver real results for Dutchess County residents.”

“Marc cares deeply about the people of our county. He serves us all by building bridges,” McCormack said.

Molinaro, a Red Hook resident, congratulated Ruggiero on his nomination.

“Dutchess County residents deserve a campaign focused on the issues and the future. We should set that example,” the incumbent said.

At the Bridge Authority, which operates the five Hudson River crossings in the Mid-Hudson Valley, Deputy Executive Director Tara Sullivan has been appointed acting executive director in the wake of Ruggiero’s departure.

Ruggiero led the agency for just under a decade.

(Democrat Ruggiero running for Dutchess County executive
Mid-Hudson News Network Feb 26, 2019)

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