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EDITORIAL: Newsday's endorsement in the 14th Assembly District

This seat is a rarity for New York's calcified Assembly: There is no incumbent in the race. Democrat Dermond Thomas, 34, of Valley Stream, is battling Republican Brian Curran, 41, of Lynbrook, to fill the spot vacated by Republican Robert Barra.

Each is an attorney - Thomas specializes in mergers and acquisitions, Curran is a litigator. And each says he's running to help fix the fiscal mess that is Albany by cutting spending and controlling taxes.

Thomas shows promise in this, his first run for public office. His experience in dissecting private companies in search of synergies and efficiencies could yield valuable insights as Albany wrestles to find ways to consolidate and spend less.

But Curran, who has served four years as Lynbrook's part-time mayor, has public sector experience. He managed to cut taxes despite the rising costs of pensions and services. That trial by fire would be valuable for any Albany newcomer since time is of the essence for New York. The next legislature will have to move quickly and decisively to put the state on a sustainable fiscal course. Being ready to hit the ground running would be a big plus for a rookie legislator.

Curran supports aggressive measures, including a property tax cap and eliminating some of the medical services covered by the state's generous, but ruinously expensive, Medicaid program and converting some full-time state jobs to part time.

Thomas favors a more modest approach to cutting costs, emphasizing better management. That's certainly needed, but by itself wouldn't be enough.

Thomas is one to watch. He's thoughtful and despite a lucrative career, appears genuinely committed to public service. Still, the nod this year goes to the experienced outsider.

Newsday endorses Curran.