Incumbent Republican Sen. James Seward faces Democrat Joyce St. George as voters across the 51st Senate District cast their ballots Tuesday.
Seward (R-Milford) has served in the state Senate since 1986. He was raised and lives in Otsego County. During his tenure, he has served on five task forces or committees, chairing the Senate Insurance Committee.
St. George, who lives in the Catskill region, began her career in the 1970s as the first female investigator in the state Attorney General’s Special Prosecutor’s Office on Anti-Corruption, during which she rooted out corruption within the criminal justice system in New York City. She established an international training company, Pact Training, that specialized in crisis and conflict management. She has co-written a novel; been active in community advocacy and leadership; served as a chairwoman for Margaretville Hospital; and has provided crisis services through FEMA throughout Delaware and part of Ulster counties following Hurricane Irene.
Jobs and the work force
Seward: A more robust economy will boost the prospects for growth, Seward said. “I have advocated for tax cuts, an end to unnecessary government regulations, and lower energy costs to help our businesses expand and ensure desired job opportunities are available,” he wrote in an email. “I have strong partnerships with local businesses, economic leaders, and schools and I am working to bring these forces together to enhance work force training initiatives to meet changing needs.”
As a member of the Senate Higher Education Committee, Seward said he is focused on improving colleges’ ability to educate future leaders and contribute to growth.
“I want to improve the relationship between our colleges and area businesses to make certain students are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow,” he wrote. “Tech companies, green industries, and knowledge-based businesses are expanding and we need to align our education programs with future opportunities.”
St. George: Many Cortland residents must work in Ithaca to make a living wage, because Cortland doesnít provide the jobs people need to sustain a quality of life, St. George said. “There are partnerships with SUNY Cortland that have netted new data companies, but there needs to be more,” she wrote in an email.
St. George would like to establish a program to establish green energy products and resources through partnerships between high schools, BOCES, SUNY colleges and green energy investors. “This is an industry that is ripe for development in our area, but we still need to build our infrastructure and broadband capacity for businesses to be attracted to our area,” she wrote.
St. George: Eight dairy farmers statewide have committed suicide this year,” St. George said. “My neighbors are dairy farmers who are now receiving public services,” she wrote. “Farmers throughout the state are suffering from high costs, taxes and the competition from mega-farms and international products.”
State government needs to help farmers diversify their products, relieve them of high taxes and equipment and address regulations that prevent family farms from succeeding, St. George said.
Seward: “Again this year, I helped secure funding to support vital agriculture programs – $54.4 million ($13 million above the governor’s proposal),” Seward wrote.
Seward has also advanced bills to help farmers grow their businesses; increase access to agricultural land; boost tax credits for the purchase of New York-grown crops; and drive investment to agri-businesses, he said. “We need to reduce costs on the farm and help our farmers diversify and identify new markets.”
The candidate’s top issue
Seward: People are leaving New York, Seward said, but better jobs and opportunities will help reverse that trend along with making the state more affordable. “This year I blocked $20 billion in taxes from the governor and Assembly and I will continue to fight for fiscal restraint,” Seward wrote. “A full state takeover of Medicaid costs, an increase in the STAR property tax credit, lower energy taxes, and affordable healthcare are other initiatives I back.”
St. George: “Affordable and quality health care must be provided to every New Yorker,” St. George wrote.