This story has been updated.
Robert Kesten, a Lewisboro resident, is the first person to challenge State Sen. Terrence Murphy (R-Yorktown), who represents the 40th district and would be running for a third term next year.
Kesten, a Democrat, said he was inspired to run against Murphy after an unsatisfying meeting with Murphy's chief of staff and communications director.
"I asked them pointed questions about health care and education," Kesten said. "They said we have no position or standing on that. We don't consider these our issues. It was disconcerting."
Kesten said while Murphy is always touting the job he's doing, the perception does not meet reality.
"He only works with Republican politicians," Kesten said. "He's not willing to put aside partisan politics. He often said he would work with people and then pulls out or he'll take someone's idea and act like it's his own. It made me uncomfortable."
Martha Ruiz-Jiminez, a spokeswoman for Sen. Murphy was critical of Kesten.
"Is Mr. Kesten running for State Senate or want a position on Sen. Murphy's staff?" Ruiz-Jiminez said. " The fact of the matter is the questions posed by him were not and have not been considered by the New York State Senate because of their extreme nature."
Even though Election Day 2018 is 51 weeks away, Kesten said it's important to announce early so he can build a network of support and establish name recognition. He hopes the Democrats success in the 2017 municipal and county elections can translate next year.
"It's important that citizens get involved," Kesten said. "People need something to motivate them. If Andrew Cuomo or Kirsten Gillibrand don't have serious opposition, that could make people more lackadaisical."
Kesten said if elected he would like to tackle state and local taxes and how education is funded, along with health care. Universal health care has passed the Assembly, yet has not come up for a vote in the Senate.
"People are an illness away from being out on the street," Kesten said. "There's too much hostility. People deserve a government that respects them and we do not have that.
Ruiz-Jiminez said government-run healthcare would cost New Yorkers $92 billion in new taxes.
"New Yorkers aren't interested in implementing a flawed system that has already failed in Vermont," Ruiz-Jiminez said.
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