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November 1, 2012

Seward, Magee may as well stay

There are endorsements, and then there are ringing endorsements. 

This probably falls into the former category rather than the latter. 

Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, and Assemblyman Bill Magee, D-Nelson, are two of our area’s longest-serving elected officials. Both are responsive to their constituents and good at bringing home the bacon to their districts. They have undeniably served the area well, and we are sure they will continue to do so if re-elected. 

But there is something about the relaxed and comfortable demeanor of both men that does not inspire us to declare our undying belief that voters must rush to the polls in droves to cast their ballots for them. 

Magee’s office is a quiet one when it comes to news releases or information about what the assemblyman is working on. He had no campaign to speak of; his website simply says “Coming soon.” So we looked upon Republican candidate Levi Spires with initial interest. A young man, relative to Magee, Spires comes from a business and Web-savvy background, promising greater transparency and regular Facebook chats with constituents. 

But when it came to the issues, we found that Spires fell woefully short. When asked broad questions on topics such as dairy farming and school aid, Spires prevaricated, punctuating several of his statements with disclaimers that he didn’t know a lot about the topic or that he “could be wrong.” 

Magee didn’t exactly talk circles around Spires when the two debated at a recent League of Women Voters-sponsored event. But he did demonstrate that he knows about the issues that matter to his constituents. We cannot endorse Spires’ candidacy; therefore, we support Magee’s re-election. 

Democrat Howard Leib, who is running against Sen. Seward, has a lot to recommend him. The well-spoken and passionate lawyer was not afraid to take Seward to task on a number of issues where the two differ in their views. We found Leib’s ideas about distance learning intriguing, and support his firm position against hydrofracking. But we were not convinced that he offered a strong enough reason to oust the longstanding senator. 

We do not agree with every decision Sen. Seward has made. His vote against gay marriage was disappointing, but we respect his decision to vote in a manner that he felt reflected the majority of his constituents. 

Seward and Magee may not be setting Albany on fire with their radical views or outspoken ways. But they are here when we need them. And maybe that’s the most important thing of all. 

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