Andrew Garbarino, the Republican candidate in the 7th Assembly District....

Andrew Garbarino, the Republican candidate in the 7th Assembly District. (July 26, 2012) Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Southeast Islip, East PatchogueRepublican Philip Boyle's decision to run for the State Senate has opened up one of the most competitive Assembly races on Long Island as a well-known figure faces a capable first-time candidate.

Christopher Bodkin, 65, of West Sayville, is trying to make a comeback to public life. After 16 years on the Islip Town Board, he lost re-election in 2009 after changing from Republican to Democrat. Bodkin is a part-time aide to the Suffolk County Legislature's presiding officer, Bill Lindsay.

Republican Andrew Garbarino, 27, is a Sayville attorney who comes from a political family. Garbarino's father, William, ran for office against two of Suffolk's biggest names: Lindsay and former County Executive Steve Levy.

Bodkin would work on environmental issues in Albany, including solid waste disposal, sewer construction and groundwater protection. He is endorsed by the state teachers union and favors taking "baby steps" toward evaluating teachers' effectiveness. He would explore funding state pensions at less than 100 percent, as some states have, to ease financial burdens on localities. Bodkin would not vote for broader casino gambling in New York.

Garbarino, on the other hand, would expand casinos here to capture gambling revenue now flowing to Connecticut and New Jersey. If elected, he would seek to work on education, aging and banking issues, particularly moving foreclosed properties back on the market.

In education, Garbarino would look to cut costs, including mandates that schools say inflate their budgets each year. He needs more study on this issue to find better ideas on which mandates in particular could best meet the chopping block. Garbarino would encourage schools to eliminate some administrative layers, and he favors evaluating teachers, but not releasing the results to the public.

Both candidates are qualified and thoughtful. However, Garbarino, who has the energy of a reformer and an impressive understanding of how to make Albany responsive to his district, is more appealing.

Newsday endorses Garbarino.