Senate hopeful to see 7 counties

Don Barber, a Democrat from Tompkins County, plans to kick off his campaign for state Senate with a

Don Barber, a Democrat from Tompkins County, plans to kick off his campaign for state Senate with a seven-county tour today of the sprawling 51st District

Barber, a six-term supervisor of the town of Caroline, is seeking the seat held for nearly 22 years by Sen. James L. Seward, R-Milford.

Barber is scheduled to make a 10:15 a.m. stop at the Grapevine Farms shop at 2373 Route 7, just east of the village of Cobleskill.

Clifford C. Hay, chairman of the Schoharie County Democratic Committee, said the committee endorsed Barber at its January meeting.

Barber said he has the backing of Democratic committees in all seven counties of the district.

Energy issues are among his priorities, Barber said Friday.

“We should be investing in mass transportation,” he said.

“New York state should be an energy exporter,” Barber said, citing possibilities for increased hydroelectric generation as well as “opportunities for green energy … wind, ethanol and biomass [energy sources].”

Asked about concerns in some areas about the impact of large-scale wind turbine projects, Barber said: “I’m a firm believer in home rule, as a supervisor, I know the power of that process.”

“We need to have wind power less centralized,” he said, including municipal ownership of wind projects.

Barber also cited environmental protection, economic development, reform of health care and taxes and education funding as among major issues he would seek to work on.

Barber said he had considered running against Seward in 2006 but didn’t believe he had the name recognition at the time.

He said he currently has built a campaign war chest of about $150,000 from about 1,200 donors.

Barber, 58, grew up on a dairy farm in Danby, Tompkins County. With a degree in ceramic engineering, he worked as an engineering manager for Corning Inc. In 1983, he started his own construction company, Sunny Brook Builders, according to his campaign biography.

He and his wife, Rita, operate a 65-acre farm in Brooktondale, which they operate with draft horses. They have three daughters.

Seward, 56, has yet to announce whether he is running for re-election.

“He’ll announce his intentions in late May or early June,” Seward spokesman Duncan Davie said Friday.

“Sen. Seward is focused on getting a [state] budget done that provides tax relief,” Davie said. “People come first … there’s plenty of time for politics later.”

Seward has not faced an opponent in his last three re-elections. He also ran unopposed in 1988, 1996 and 1998.

Each legislative term is for two years.

The mostly rural 51st district zig-zags from the North Country to the Catskills and the Hudson Valley and west to the eastern Finger Lakes Region. It includes all of Schoharie, Otsego, Herkimer, Greene and Cortland counties, as well as parts of Chenango and Tompkins counties.

Categories: Schenectady County

Leave a Reply