Senator Jim Seward, who’s served in the Senate for 33 years, announced Monday that he’s retiring at the end of this year.
Senator Seward, a Republican whose district includes Schoharie and Otsego counties, cited concerns about cancer and his health.
He began cancer treatments last year and in the fall, indicated he’d still seek re-election in 2020. Those plans changed, however.
“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,” Senator Seward said in a statement.
A longtime friend of Schoharie County, Senator Seward said his decision wasn’t political.
“I want to stress that this decision is in no way related to majority or minority standing in the senate,” he said. “I have effectively served under both scenarios and have always for the best interests of my constituents. . .”
Fultonham farmer Jim Barber announced in December that he’s seeking the Democratic nomination to run for Senator Seward’s seat in the 51st District.
“I wish Senator Seward and his family all the best as he focuses on his health,” Mr. Barber said in a release.
“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.”
First elected in 1986, Senator Seward has served as the chair of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee, chair of the Senate Insurance Committee and currently, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee.
He’s also been a longstanding member of the Senate Higher Education Committee.
He was an original sponsor of the STAR school tax relief program and has delivered dozens of grants to spur economic development, agriculture and libraries, among others.
More recently Senator Seward co-sponsored eight bills targeting increased limousine safety in the wake of the terrible limo crash in Schoharie in October 2018.
“The things he’s done for the entire district are amazing,” said Assemblyman Chris Tague, also chair of the Schoharie County Republican Party.
“Jim’s done a lot for us in Schoharie County.”
Senator Seward also teamed with Assemblyman Tague about concerns of speed limits and safety on Routes 30 and 30A in the Schoharie Valley. The two legislators are holding a public meeting about the issue February 6.
“To me, Jim’s been a friend, like a brother and a mentor,” said Assemblyman Tague.
“I’m disappointed, but he’s doing the right thing. His health and family come first.”
Although he’s stepping down from Albany, Senator Seward said his interest in the region is still keen.
“As I wrap up my Senate career, I will continue to focus on the issues and concerns people express to me every day,” Senator Seward said.
“My commitment to our region will continue, and I look forward to further service in the future.”