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EDITORIAL: Newsday's endorsement in the 19th Assembly District

In some elections, the choice is tough because the candidates are equally uninspiring. But in other races, two good candidates make us wish that one of them would relocate so that both could serve. This year, that's how we feel about Nassau County's 19th Assembly District.

The incumbent is Republican David McDonough, 73, a former Chamber of Commerce official who's been in office since 2002. McDonough, of Merrick, is well-liked and speaks frankly and knowledgeably about the problems in Albany. He favors a property-tax cap and repeal of the controversial Metropolitan Transportation Authority tax on payrolls, which he voted against.

But our endorsement must go to John Brooks, a 61-year-old Democrat who is one of the most impressive Assembly challengers we've seen. An insurance expert with deep roots in Seaford, Brooks has developed an imaginative plan - in writing - for reforming state aid to education. His plan would radically reduce the importance of property taxes in school finance, shifting the burden for "core" educational expenditures to the state, which would distribute funds on a per-student basis, taking account of regional cost differences. The state would also pay for special-needs students, and local districts would get incentives to save by sharing services. Local taxpayers wanting to spend more on education could tax themselves for this purpose.

Brooks' approach to other issues was equally thoughtful and well-informed. He advocates state and local spending caps, for example, an end to Nassau's unusual practice of covering the cost of assessment refunds, and elimination of the MTA payroll tax. He also proposes development of a statewide master plan for mass transit, including an expert assessment of costly personnel practices.

Dave McDonough is a good guy. But John Brooks is just the kind of person we need more of in Albany.

Newsday endorses Brooks.