The Times
  • ELECTION Q&A: 51st State Senate race — Seward vs. Leib

  • Incumbent state Sen. James Seward, R - Milford, will face Democrat Howard Leib in the race for the new 51st state Senate seat Tuesday.

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  • Incumbent state Sen. James Seward, R - Milford, will face Democrat Howard Leib in the race for the new 51st state Senate seat Tuesday.
    Here are their responses to questions regarding the new district and what their plans are if elected.
    Why should voters choose you for the 51st Senate District?
    Seward: I have worked hard on behalf of the district. I have a proven record of service and results. I am familiar with the communities in the district, the local officials and I have an excellent working relationship with community leaders.
    Leib: The real reason is I’m an independent voice. I will bring new ideas to Albany. My opponent has been in office for 26 years. He will not get better at his job.
    What will be your top three priorities if elected?
    Seward: In the last two years alone, I have partnered to end Albany dysfunction, cut taxes for millions, close $13 billion in budget gaps and create a favorable climate for business growth. Moving forward, the priorities remain — cut taxes, reduce state spending and ensure future generations are able to thrive here at home. The property tax cap, increased funding for rural schools and a middle class tax cut are among recent victories. I look forward to continuing to enact the changes we need.
    Leib: I focus on the middle class, not giveaways to business. Medicare for all — it reduces costs, reduces the budget, creates jobs and insures all. It lifts a burden on business and makes New York a more business friendly state. Prevent fracking — fracking threatens our environment, infrastructure and economy and provides only a few extra years of energy. Heavy equipment hurts roads and local resources. Minimum wage — A raise to $8.50 is only $2,600 more a year. A job is not enough, it must pay the bills. We must support voters, not campaign contributors.
    What should the state government do to strengthen the state economy and reduce unemployment?
    Seward: Focus on job creating tax credits, the elimination of certain small business taxes and an end to burdensome government regulations. The Senate overwhelmingly passed my bill that would give the legislature veto power over runaway state agency rules — the state Assembly needs to follow suit. Further, a state spending cap, a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds vote for any tax increase and a moratorium on new taxes and fees would improve our business climate.
    Leib: Giveaways to big business are not the answer, we must empower consumers and encourage new industries. When consumers have more money they spend, and they spend locally. It grows our economy and creates new jobs. New York state must buy locally, stimulating our economy and creating jobs. Everyone must be able to get high speed Internet and join the online economy. Medical marijuana will be a new, legal crop for farmers. We need to foster and encourage new industries here, especially renewable fuel sources.
    Page 2 of 2 - Should the Mohawk and Ilion school districts receive special legislation to speed them toward a new merger vote?
    Seward: I believe the voters of those two districts should have the opportunity for an accelerated timeframe to reach decision on whether those should merger. Ideally, this decision should be made in a timeframe so should the voters decide to merge, it could be accomplished by July 1.
    Leib: Absolutely. That’s one thing my opponent and I agree on. The state should not get in the way of localities looking to merge in order to save money and provide greater opportunity for students.
    Contributing: GateHouse News Service