After four terms as Dutchess County executive, William Steinhaus is calling it quits.
The four-term incumbent decided not to seek a fifth term this upcoming November, leaving a playing field wide open for both Republicans and Democrats.
State Assemblyman Marcus Molinaro, R-Red Hook, has already announced his intention to run for Steinhaus’ position, seeking the Republican, Independent and Conservative lines.
Others have been mentioned but none have yet stepped forward. Several political pundits have suggested Joan Pagones, who has successfully led the town of Fishkill as its supervisor. She has not commented on suggestions to run for the county exec’s seat. Like Steinhaus, she was elected in 1991 and has since held the position of supervisor.
Steinhaus has served in Dutchess County government since 1978, when he was elected as county clerk, then moved on to commissioner of Motor Vehicles. Since 1991, he’s served as the county’s executive and until his announcement March 3, was scheduled to run in November for a fifth term.
Steinhaus said in a statement his biggest challenge as county executive was the downsizing of IBM during the 1990s.
He’s already done battle with the county Legislature over its 2011 budget, shrinking county government and consolidating several agencies in cost-cutting measures. The task of leading the county through its current financial downturn will remain his until midnight, Dec. 31.
While announcing his exit, Steinhaus said, “All of us know there is a right time to move on; my family and I know now is that time for us.”
He has not formally announced what he plans to do after retiring from public life.