We are about a month away from the Republican primary to select our candidate for the New York state Senate. Is it time for a change? I believe it is.

Here in the 51st District, we have had a good man for the last 25 years, but his time has come. Sen. James Seward has served us well, but as with all politicians, he has become more concerned with his own job security rather than the plight of those he has sworn to represent.

In this part of New York, our economic condition is serious and decaying. Farms have dropped at such a pace that one might put them on the endangered species list, and the downtowns of our cities and small towns are hollow.

Unemployment, taxes and regulations are high, while our potholes flourish and our schools decline. Who would have thought it possible that our people could feel relief when gas goes under $4 per gallon?

The once-proud Empire State of New York is akin to an aging movie star, aka a "has been." This is not the fault of one man, but rather the effect of many like-minded men who regulate, legislate and posture themselves to their own advantage.

A good example of this posturing is the proposed "Home Rule Bill" sponsored by Seward, whereby local town boards will be left to determine the fate of legal industries, such as gas drilling, in their communities.

Gas exploration is a potato too hot for Seward to handle, so the buck is being passed to potentially ill-equipped and agenda-driven town boards.

Should his "Home Rule Bill" be signed into law, town boards will have the enormous responsibility of determining the economic fate of their people, and can greatly impact the fortunes of neighboring communities. This is far too much power to entrust to so few.

As they have already become, town board meetings will regress deeper into shouting matches, and neighbor will continue to be pitted against neighbor.

We could talk ad nauseam about gas drilling and fracking, yet minds are made up and the lines are drawn. We fervently disagree with those opposed, and likewise they with us. Moving past the usual tree-hugger, sky-is-falling, and rapers-of-the-environment monikers that we affectionately call each other, I do respect those who take a stand, and let their beliefs be known.

Sadly, Seward rode the fence. Whether he was in favor of or opposed to gas exploration, leadership was needed, but alas, there were powers and people he wished not to confront. It was time to act, to make a stand, and take the heat. Sen. Seward, it came with the job!

Opposing Seward is Jim Blake, a conservative family man who has resided in Schenevus with his wife and five children for eight years. His experiences range from being co-owner of Metro Atlanta, a Georgia-based insurance company, to founding an international trading company that promotes the foreign sale of U.S.-manufactured products.

Blake has also worked with Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Norman Borlaug and famed scientist Dr. Taze Senn of Clemson University. He serves as a board member of a telecommunications company.

Blake believes in term limits, safe energy development and the sanctity of life from conception to natural end. He is an avid supporter of gun owners, farmers and teachers. He advocates smaller government through less regulation and more economic freedom and opposes the "Home Rule Bill."

Typically, politicians talk out of both sides of their mouth, depending on whom they are addressing. If one can stay awake until they're done, you still don't know what they really said or what they truly meant. Tragically, we all know that you can't believe a thing they say.

Blake is a no-nonsense man of few words, so when he speaks, pay attention or you'll miss something. Ask him a question, and you'll get a "yes" or a "no." That's right; he'll give you a simple, truthful answer. Blake doesn't "hem and haw" or "squirm." He talks plain and simple.

Ladies and gentlemen, think about this for a minute. Career politicians are not the way it was meant to be. The idea was "citizen statesmen." Our founding fathers wanted honorable people of common origins to do their duty and serve their state or country for a limited time, then step aside and go back to their farms or businesses and let others serve in their place.

The design was not for careers in politics. No matter how good the man or woman, as terms pass and decades tally, they become beholden to the powers that perpetuate them. Blake is beholden to no one, but himself and his God.

We need a change. It is time for a good man to retire, and time for another to step to the plate. Blake is that man.

The views expressed here are mine, and do not reflect the views of this paper, but they ought to.

Chuck Pinkey is the owner of River Valley New Holland Inc. in Otego. He can be reached at chuck.rvnewholland@gmail.com. The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of The Daily Star and its editorial board.

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