ONEONTA _ Democrat Don Barber kicked off his campaign for state Senate on Saturday, making stops in Otsego, Chenango and Schoharie counties, according to a news release.

Barber is running for a seat held by Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, who has represented the 51st District since 1987.

On Saturday, about 35 supporters rallied on Oneonta's Main Street, holding placards declaring the area ``Seward country,'' among other slogans, as Barber spoke across the street, said Duncan Davie, aide to Seward, who will formalize intentions later this spring.

Barber, a farmer, businessman and six-time town of Caroline supervisor, declared his candidacy Saturday in seven counties _ Greene, Herkimer, Tompkins, Cortland and the three local counties.

"I have found, no matter what their political philosophy, people want reform in the way state government does business,'' Barber said in a prepared statement. ``They want meaningful action, not rhetoric, and most important, they want to be represented by someone who has worked alongside them and will be their voice in Albany."

Responding to Barber's campaign start, Seward said, "while some are starting the political silly season early, I am focused on getting results in a state budget that helps with property taxes, gasoline and home heating costs, jobs and affordable health insurance.'' He added that ``now my focus is on governing and serving the people of my district.''

The district is home to 78,010 Republicans, 52,606 Democrats and 39,918 independent or unaffiliated voters, as well as members of smaller parties.

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