Republican James Kennedy was first elected to the 12th District seat in February, after Michael Venditto was elected to the State Senate. Kennedy was the son-in-law of Peter Schmitt, the presiding officer who died in 2012. He previously worked for the county election board and was a schoolteacher.

Democrat Michael Canzoneri, 63, of Massapequa, declined an invitation to speak with the editorial board, and officials said he is not actively campaigning.

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Kennedy, 43, lives in Massapequa and is most passionate about his commitment to educating students and parents about the heroin epidemic. He's also concerned about environmental issues, including protecting the water supply and the Massapequa Preserve (now named for Schmitt). His commitment to fighting heroin and protecting the environment are laudable and should continue. If he can broaden that passion to bring new ideas to address the county's broader fiscal, economic and management issues, everyone might benefit.

Newsday endorses Kennedy.