October 21, 2021

3 run for District 51 seat in state Senate

While there is no primary for the state Senate seat representing the 51st District, there are three people campaigning for the seat to be decided in November.

The district, which includes the counties of Schoharie, Otsego, Cortland, Tompkins, Herkimer, Chenango, Cayuga, Delaware and Ulster, is held by Republican James Seward of Milford. Seward, who is coping with bladder cancer, announced in January he will not seek re-election to an 18th term, and will instead retire.

Here are the candidates running to fill his seat:

Jim Barber

Barber is a fifth-generation farmer in the Schoharie Valley running on the Democratic Party line.

“I am running because I love this part of our country,” he said. “I respect the people who live here and work hard every day to build a life for themselves and a future for their children. People who appreciate what our land provides to all of us. People who value self-reliance and independence. People who cherish their communities. I have spent my life working with my hands, managing daily challenges with creative solutions, and serving as an advocate for farmers and rural communities. I am motivated by the opportunity to improve conditions for everyone who lives here.”

Barber has served on various boards and associations including seven years as the executive director of the USDA New York State Farm Service Agency, two years as special assistant to the commissioner of Agriculture and Markets, five years on the Middleburgh school board, and as the president of New York State Vegetable Growers Association.

Some issues Barber supports are cutting taxes for rural New Yorkers, small businesses and farmers through a sixpoint plan, as well as rural economic development like investing in rural infrastructure including universal broadband.

Peter Oberacker

Republican Oberacker grew up in a sausage-making family in Schenevus, where he worked in his family’s market since he was 8 years old. In 2007, he created Formtech Solutions, a company that formulates and incorporates new products into the food industry. He is also a member of the local fire department and emergency medical services squad.

“When I first heard of the retirement of Sen. Jim Seward, I knew there would be big shoes to fill,” he said. “After much discussion and prayer, I decided to put my experience as a local official and small-business owner to work to keep the effective and dedicated representation that we have enjoyed for over three decades from Senator Seward.”

Oberacker was elected in 2015 to the Otsego County Board of Representatives, where he was the chairman of the public works committee and vice chairman of the administration committee. Before that he was the Maryland town supervisor and a board member.

Some issues Oberacker focuses on are supporting upstate New York’s small businesses, municipal governments and farms. He said the area should look at revisiting its reliance on locally grown and produced foods and products. He also supports getting money from the federal government’s small-business rescue program into the hands of local business owners to help get back lost jobs.

He also supports looking at bail reform laws, including giving judges more discretion on bail.

Tim O’Connor

O’Connor of Maryland, in Delaware County. He is running on the Libertarian Party line.

He has a degree in economics and is a former restaurant manager, as well as a contractor.

O’Connor supports a local approach to government with local economics in mind.

“Taxes are too high, regulations too burdensome, and top-down economic organization has plainly failed to bring jobs and keep our most precious resource in the area, our children,” he said. “Join me in reinventing the economic future of upstate New York”. Millenials want a third party option and here it is.”