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Funke to face challenge from Penfield Democrat Lunsford 

Jen Lunsford, an attorney who lives in Penfield, will try to unseat Republican State Senator Rich Funke.

Lunsford, a Democrat, announced her candidacy for the 55th State Senate District seat this afternoon at Monroe County Democratic Committee headquarters. The seat covers parts of eastern Monroe County and western Ontario County, and though the registration in the district favors Democrats, the last Democrat to hold the seat was Ted O'Brien, who served for one term before Funke unseated him.

click to enlarge Jen Lunsford, a Democrat, plans to run against sitting State Senator Rich Funke, a Republican. - PHOTO BY JEREMY MOULE
  • Jen Lunsford, a Democrat, plans to run against sitting State Senator Rich Funke, a Republican.
"When I look at this community, I see a lot of people who look like me," she said: people who are trying to balance work and family, trying to pay off student loans, buy homes, and pay for child care. (She and her husband have a toddler son.)

But she doesn't see herself, or people like her, reflected in the Senate, she said. Only 14 of its 63 members are women, and none of them have young children, she said.

One of her key issues, she said, is the cost of child care; there's a big gap between people like herself and her husband, who can afford child care, and the families who receive subsidies. The state could expand subsidies, allow for pre-tax flex plans to help families pay for child care, or it could look for ways to encourage employers to offer child care assistance as an employee perk, Lunsford said.

"New York is well-poised to be a leader nationally," Lunsford said.

Lunsford still has to secure the party's endorsement, as well as the endorsement of the Ontario County Democratic Committee. In Monroe County, candidates will start appearing in front of local committees in two weeks, said MCDC chair Jamie Romeo. No other Democratic candidate has declared and Romeo, as well as her Ontario County counterpart, support Lunsford.

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