The 7th District is lucky to have two qualified, intelligent candidates vying to occupy its legislative seat.

Robert Calarco, a Democrat from Patchogue, has held the job for two terms, and has done well by his district, fighting for sewer dollars for Patchogue and working to end overcrowding in Gordon Heights, among other issues.

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Frank Tassone, a Patchogue Republican, has had a long path in politics on the village, town and county levels, and now works in Brookhaven's waste management department.

Tassone, 44, and Calarco, 36, understand key issues like development and housing. But Tassone is stronger in supporting a deepwater port at Shoreham and an expanded use of rail to take trucks off highways. He has a solid fiscal focus and a willingness to solve problems.

It's a critical time. Calarco's take on county issues makes him sound like another singer in the choir. Tassone can be an important new voice, especially if he's willing to prod and challenge Suffolk Executive Steve Bellone and his colleagues.

Newsday endorses Tassone.