Ulrich is a moderate Republican, breaking from conservatives on minimum wage legislation, his vocal opposition to Donald Trump, and his support for rent stabilization. As City Councilman, he led oversight committees on Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, and publicly expressed disapproval with their speed and efficiency. Ulrich's constituents reside in parts of the Rockaway Peninsula and Howard Beach which were disproportionately affected by the storm. In public statements Ulrich called the relief efforts a "bureaucratic nightmare", said the city's chosen contractors were incapable of handling the residents' needs, and recommended the head of the city's Build-it-Back program be fired by the Mayor.
Ulrich was born and raised in Ozone Park, New York where he attended P.S. 63Q (Old South), a public elementary school, and later, Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a Catholic elementary school. After graduating from Cathedral Prep. Seminary High School, he became the first member of his family to earn a college degree.
Ulrich worked for the Transportation Security Administration and the Kansas City Board of Elections for the borough of Lee's Summit. He taught religion at Xaverian High School (Bay Ridge, Brooklyn). He serves as the President of the Our Neighbors Civic Association of Ozone Park. He belongs to the Knights of Columbus, Kiwanis Club of Howard Beach, the National Political Science Honor Society-Pi Sigma Alpha, and New York Republican State Committee.
In 2005, aged 20, Ulrich ran for a Republican District Leader post, but lost by 124 votes. Two years later, he mounted another challenge and won.
In February 2009, during a special election, he was elected to a seat on the New York City Council as a Republican, defeating three more senior candidates in the 32nd district, a swing district, in southwest Queens. Ulrich was re-elected in November 2009.
Ulrich broke with the New York State Republican Party platform on several issues, and says he is proud of his independence from party positions. He voted in favor of a minimum wage raise and voted twice to boost rent stabilization, making him the only Republican to do so. In 2012, the Queens Republican Party endorsed a lesser-known challenger against him in the primary for State Senate. During the campaign, Ulrich criticized Democrat State Sen. Abbaddo, who publicly said there was "an understanding" that Resorts World Casino in Queens would hire 70-80% locally from Queens. The Daily News found 61% of the "top tier" positions were held by employees residing in Queens County.
Ulrich also serves as Chair of the New York City Council's Veterans Committee. Since assuming this role in early 2014, Ulrich has held hearings on a range of topics examining local veterans' issues and how New York City government can combat these challenges.
For fiscal year 2015, Ulrich secured a $400,000 allocation to support local veterans' direct services. Five organizations were nominated to help veterans and their families with employment, mental health, and legal issues. Funding also supports programming for women veterans and newly returned service members.
Ulrich started a Committee with Mark Treyger to monitor the recovery effort following Hurricane Sandy. Ulrich sharply criticized the pace of the recovery effort during oversight meetings in 2015 and 2016. He pointed to Build-it-Back as ineffective, pointing to cases where homeowners had been relocated for construction, only to learn that months had gone by with no development.
Ulrich is one of only three Republicans in the New York City Council. He supported Melissa Mark-Viverito during her run for Council Speaker in 2013, an unpopular position for Republicans. Queens Republican Chair Bob Turner said that supporting Viverito "wouldn't help" Ulrich's standing in Republican circles. Ulrich had chided Mark-Viverito for refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance with other Council-members during government functions, a position she changed in 2013 prior to her run for Speaker. Following her election to Council Speaker, Viverito appointed Ulrich to his present Committee leadership post in Veterans Affairs. Ulrich refuted speculation that his support for Viverito was done as a quid pro quo for obtaining his Committee Chairmanship, and instead said that supporting her was his best option for bringing her attention to the needs of his constituents.
Following remarks by presidential candidate Donald Trump that John McCain was not a war hero, Ulrich rejected his comments, calling them "a slap in the face to New York City’s veterans and their families, especially those who had been 'captured' as former POWs." Ulrich wrote a letter July 20, 2015 to Jamaica Hospital, urging the Board of Directors to remove Trump's name from the nursing home. The Trump Pavilion for Nursing and Rehabilitation was named after Mary Trump, and was built in 1975 with donations from Donald Trump's parents. The Trump name remains on the Pavilion.
Ulrich endorsed John Kasich over Trump during his presidential run in 2016. When Trump became the presumptive nominee, Ulrich said he disliked Trump's offensive comments and speeches, but said he may vote for him should he "come around by election day".
Media have speculated that Ulrich was a potential challenger to Bill De Blasio in the 2017 mayoral race since 2013, when he held a press conference on an unplowed street in Queens, criticizing the newly elected mayor for his handling of the heavy snowfall. Ulrich launched an exploratory committee on May 12, 2016, but has not announced his candidacy.