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Gender barriers falling as

"When I walked into the board of supervisors, some of the guys called me powder puff," she said. "I have never used a powder puff in my life, but that's what you were greeted with.

But not everyone was so skeptical of the political abilities of a woman.

"I will say that there were men on the board at the time, like George Canon, who took me under their wing."

The region has seen the rise of not only Sayward, but also state Senator and former chair of the Warren County board Betty Little, Assemblywoman Janet Duprey and her peer Dede Scozzafava.

Sayward said Tuesday she believes that hard-wired differences between the sexes can be a female politician's strength, not a weakness.

"We are really good at bringing people to consensus," Sayward said. "If there is an uprising in the house, who's the one that has to get involved and get everybody to compromise? I think women are really good at that."

Sayward said that with women facing the many choices regarding children and careers, getting into politics is all about timing. But these options shouldn't discourage a woman's involvement.

For her part, she waited until her youngest child went to college.

Longtime Franklin town Supervisor and the first woman to hold the office of town supervisor in Franklin County, Mary Ellen Keith, left office only last week.

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