YORKTOWN, N.Y. – The 2018 general election is nearly 15 months away, but that hasn’t stopped Robert Kesten, a Democrat from South Salem, from announcing his candidacy for New York’s 40th Senate District.

Kesten kicked off his campaign on Wednesday, Sept. 14, at Jack DeVito Veterans Memorial Field in Yorktown, surrounded by a half-dozen supporters. He is hoping to unseat incumbent Sen. Terrence Murphy, a Republican from Yorktown.

Since 2010, Kesten has been the executive director of People’s Movement for Human Rights Education (PDHRE). He has also worked on campaigns for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, U.S. Senator Paul Simon, and state Senate Minority Leader Manfred Ohrenstein. Beginning in 2000, he produced five consecutive film festivals in Fairfield County, Conn. He is a graduate of Fox Lane High School and Syracuse University. His two sons went through the Katonah-Lewisboro school system.

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At his campaign announcement, Kesten focused primarily on health care reform. He said education, property taxes and gerrymandering were other concerns of his. These things, he said, are “driving the mass exodus” of residents from New York State.

“At one time, New York was the center for education and the center for health care and the center for everything that was positive,” Kesten. “People from around the world thought of New York as the representative of the United States, and the woman from the harbor was the welcoming angel that told us that our future opportunity was here, and I don’t think too many people feel that way anymore.”

Kesten said the current state legislature is too “reactive.”

“I think everyone that’s in elective office should be doing better,” Kesten said. “I don’t think the governor is sacrosanct or anything like that. But if you have legislative bodies that are supposed to work with the governor to create programs that serve the people and it doesn’t, then it falls back to some extent on that legislature.”