County Legislator Virginia Perez to challenge Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins

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Westchester County Legislator Virginia Perez announced Friday that she is challenging powerful Democratic incumbent Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins for the 35th District state Senate seat.

Perez was surrounded by supporters outside a municipal housing building when she made the announcement. She is currently serving her fourth term as a county legislator and says she is taking on the Democratic establishment because it's time for a change.

"The political establishment asked me – actually told me – I not do this," she says. "If by challenging the status quo, challenging the establishment, means that I am committing political suicide, then so be it."

VIDEO: Interviews with state Sen. Stewart-Cousins, challenger

The Westchester Board of Elections confirms Perez submitted 1,052 valid signatures to get on the Sept. 13 primary ballot. She needed 1,000.

Stewart-Cousins was positioned to become majority leader following the general elections in November, but now has to face-off the unexpected primary challenge from Perez.

She acknowledged the work she's done on behalf of Westchester families while serving as a state senator, and says she has vowed to continue fighting for them.

"Clearly I’ve delivered immensely for the city of Yonkers, and I have the support of city officials – to say that – as well as all other parts of my district," says Stewart-Cousins. She is the leader of the Senate Democratic Conference in Albany and has held the seat since 2006.

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