October 16, 2021

Seward, fighting cancer, to retire this year

Jim Seward

State Sen. James L. Seward, who is coping with bladder cancer, announced Monday he will not seek re-election to an 18th term, and will instead retire.

“While I have responded well to cancer treatments, my physicians have advised me that treatments will continue for the foreseeable future limiting my ability to maintain the rigorous schedule needed to campaign for re-election,” Seward said in a news release.

Seward, 68, a Republican from Milford in Otsego County, said his decision was not influenced by his conference losing the Senate majority in 2018.

“I have effectively served under both scenarios and have always fought for the best interests of my constituents no matter the party in power — which is exactly what I will continue to do for the remainder of my term,” he said.

Seward was elected to his first two-year term in 1986. He has, at times, been chairman of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee, the Insurance Committee and is now the ranking minority member of the Senate Finance Committee. He was chairman of the Senate Task Force on Volunteer Emergency Services, where he established a low-interest loan program for volunteer emergency responders to buy equipment, and was chairman of the Senate Task Force on State and Local Emergency Preparedness following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

He is a longtime member of the Senate Higher Education Committee, where he was won state aid to help SUNY colleges, including Cortland’s.

“There will be plenty of time to reminisce about the accomplishments, but there is still work ahead,” Seward said.

“As I wrap up my Senate career, I will continue to focus on the issues and concerns people express to me every day and I look forward to a few additional success stories.”

“I wish Senator Seward and his family all the best as he focuses on his health,” said Jim Barber, a Democratic candidate in the 51st Senate District, which Seward represents. “I want to thank him for his more than three decades of public service and hope to build upon the work that he has done to bring resources to our rural communities.

A native of Otsego County, Seward attended Oneonta public schools and graduated from Hartwick College with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He also studied at the Nelson Rockefeller Institute of SUNY Albany. In 1999, Hartwick College awarded Seward with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.