Robert Kesten, a South Salem Democrat, has launched his campaign for the State Senate seat in New York’s 40th Senate District.  Kesten is a graduate of Fox Lane High School and Syracuse University.

“I’ve decided to run,” Kesten said, “because the status quo and reactionary policies are holding back our communities, our state and our nation.  The thoughtful and progressive legislation passed in the Assembly never finds its way out of committees in the Senate, and real people are paying the price. I know what it is like to see a neighbor be foreclosed on, I know what it is like to be unemployed, have a child with a lifelong illness, send a child to college.  I have seen the failures of our local government, our state government and our federal government up close and I know it can be better for all of us.”

“With many of us fearing no access to healthcare, while multimillionaire elected officials ignore our calls for action, we can no longer afford a ‘do nothing’ NYS Senate, as state government might be the only protection we have from a highly dysfunctional Congress.  Our schools have long been a key element in our home values.  We currently elect our boards of education and therefore have a say in budgets and direction and it has served us well.  Now, the charter school industry is pushing hard for a foothold in our senate district and they have poured millions into local senate races, which have gotten them tens of millions of dollars of your tax money for schools that have no accountability to the tax payer.  They are enriching themselves on your property tax money, while draining the schools we rely on for education and value in our communities.  My opponent is one of the beneficiaries of this system, a system that needs drastic changes.”

“I remember a time,” he continued, “when New York was truly The Empire State and the engine that drove the nation’s economy, arts, education and gave us a sense of what our nation’s possibilities were. Working together, we can achieve that status once again. Together, we can reengage our most talented, our most creative, our unions and workers and educators and build a new New York that indeed is a beacon to the world.”

For the past decade Kesten has been executive director of PDHRE, the organization behind the United Nations Decade on Human Rights Education.  Previously, he ran the Center for Screen Time Awareness in Washington, DC, where he advocated for a FCC Task Force on the impact of screened media on children’s health.

Kesten has been actively engaged in government at the local, national, and international levels.  A Democratic District Leader in the Town of Lewisboro, he has worked with U.S. Senators Tom Daschle, Harry Reid, and Paul Simon as well as for NYS Senate Minority Leader Manfred Ohrenstein, where he was also active in the NYS Democratic Senate Campaign Committee.

His international efforts include advising the U.S. government during the break-up of the Soviet Union. He was also engaged in encouraging democratic institutions during the Arab Spring in both Egypt and Tunisia and is currently assisting Mountain View, California (home to Google) on becoming a Human Rights City.

“Over the past several years,” Kesten declared, “the people of the 40th SD have been ill-served.  One of our district 40 Senators went to prison for corruption and his successor left the area under an ethical cloud.  Our current senator’s previous campaigns have been laced with invective and misrepresentation and he remains unresponsive to the needs of a wide swath of our district’s diverse population.  Not returning calls, even to town supervisors he is expected to work with.  His own ethical lapses have made the pages of a number of our local newspapers in the short time he’s been in the senate.  We deserve better.”

“With your support, I will do my utmost to give you full transparency, provide the highest level of constituent service and be responsive to the needs of all in our district, while fighting for each and everyone of you in Albany and in Washington, DC, since government mandates, taxes and other demands do not come from one source and cannot be won by fighting one battle.”

In the months ahead, Kesten will be traversing the district, meeting with voters of all persuasions to discuss your concerns and how our state government can help you and your families succeed.  “I don’t believe that it is appropriate for politicians to dictate to the voters what their concerns should be,” he said.  “Rather it is incumbent upon us to learn from you and advance those issues.  As the campaign unfolds, I will hold a number of local and regional forums to discuss policies and programs we all believe are necessary to achieve a better standard of living, review our state’s tax structure and give us the sense of security we lost, first in the economic downturn and now with bullies running our government and the uncertainty that brings.”

More information on Robert Kesten, his background, his ideas, and his plans for a better New York can be found on the Facebook page of RobertKesten4NYSSenate.

New York’s 40th Senate District includes the towns of Beekman, Pawling and the village of Pawling in Dutchess County, the towns of Carmel, Patterson and Southeast, and the village of Brewster in Putnam County, and the city of Peekskill, the towns of Cortlandt, Lewisboro, Mount Pleasant, New Castle, North Salem, Pound Ridge, Somers and Yorktown, the town/village of Mount Kisco, and the villages of Briarcliff Manor, Buchanan, Croton-on-Hudson, Pleasantville and Sleepy Hollow in Westchester County.

Author: Harlem Valley News