ONEONTA, 07/12/16 – In officially kicking off his 2016 campaign, State Senator James L. Seward (R/C/I-Oneonta) is filing nearly 3,800 signatures on nominating petitions for re-election as state senator representing the 51st senatorial district.  With strong backing from voters across the nine-county district, Seward once again filed for the Republican party nomination, the Independence party nod and the Conservative party designation.  Seward also filed for the newly formed Reform party line.

“I am honored to serve the people of the 51st senate district and look forward to continuing to work with those who make up my nine-county district, fostering growth and standing up for our local needs. The strong support and encouragement from constituents energizes me and I look forward to talking with more individuals during the campaign season – discussing their concerns and views on how best to improve our state. 

“As I work to create new and better opportunities for New Yorkers my focus is on the concerns I hear from people every day – property tax relief, economic development, aid for our neediest schools, resources for our local roads and bridges, and the crushing heroin epidemic.  As a member of the senate leadership team I have worked to end Albany dysfunction and have played a key role in crafting six straight on-time budgets which hold the line on spending while meeting local needs. 

“Many of the positive steps taken in recent years followed the devastating 2009-10 term when Albany fell under one party rule and New York City-centric values ruled the Capitol.  Everyone was treated to higher taxes while state government spending skyrocketed.  This is an era we cannot afford to revisit.   Maintaining checks and balances in state government is critical for the protection of upstate.

“We must continue to look toward the future and ensure that New York, and in particular, our region of the state, has the proper foundation to support growth and reach our full potential. 

“Advancing broad-based economic development incentives that will attract new businesses and strengthen those already loyal to New York, solidifying a more equitable school aid distribution formula with a focus on foundation aid reforms, continuing to revamp our state regulatory system by eliminating costly mandates and unneeded regulations on our local governments and small businesses, helping young people and their families afford the cost of college, further investing in our upstate roads and bridges, and delivering sustained property tax relief for our middle-class homeowners are just a few items that top my agenda for 2016-17. 

“Restoring the public’s trust in government also remains a focal point.  I have helped enact a number of new laws ensuring greater transparency and increasing penalties for bribery and public corruption.  The process to adopt a Constitutional Amendment that would strip tax-payer funded pensions from corrupt government officials started under my watch and I will make sure it is approved for a second time and sent to the voters for final authorization.  Senate rules that I have supported creating term limits for leadership posts and committee chairs must also become law for the senate and assembly.

“It takes a combination of experience and vision to meet the challenges we face – my record of service coupled with my proposals for future growth fulfill those requirements.  I look forward to continuing to work for the people of the 51st senate district and ensuring our needs and views are well represented in Albany.” 

Seward was first elected to the state senate in 1986 and has been a strong advocate for the communities he represents.  He is known for helping local governments and partnering with local economic development groups and communities to promote business growth, job creation, and quality of life initiatives.  Seward has ensured that communities he represents receive their fair share of state funding for school aid, economic development, and infrastructure needs.

As chairman of the Senate Insurance Committee, Seward has promoted legislation to expand the availability and accessibility of health insurance, winning laws that help small business owners and expand coverage for young, uninsured individuals.  Among recent accomplishments, Seward authored landmark legislation greatly enhancing women’s health care in New York State to include pregnancy as a qualifying event for women to enroll in any health insurance plan at any time.

Seward is a long-standing member of the Senate Education Committee and has consistently fought for the needs of upstate rural school students.  This year Seward’s strong advocacy helped lead to a $1.5 billion increase in school aid that focuses on the neediest districts and the complete elimination of the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) which he voted against when it was first enacted.  He has helped enact critical reforms to address the State Education Department’s flawed roll-out of the Common Core standards.  Additionally, he co-sponsors legislation to greatly reduce standardized testing for students and ensure teacher evaluations are not based on “high-stake” test results.

Seward is a perennial recipient of the New York Farm Bureau’s “Circle of Friends” honor and is a respected member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.  He has consistently worked to ensure programs benefiting New York’s farmers receive state support and during this year’s state budget negotiations he led the fight to add more than $9 million to the governor’s budget proposal and restore budget cuts to 33 different programs that farmers depend on.

Seward is playing a pivotal role in the state’s fight against heroin and opioid abuse.  As a member of a special senate task force to deal with this epidemic, Senator Seward has hosted two community forums with area experts and those whose lives have been affected by heroin abuse.  A number of new laws have been enacted thanks to Senator Seward’s work on this issue including measures to improve insurance coverage for people in need, step up prevention and education efforts, and assist law enforcement.