Grace Meng, Democratic candidate for the 6th Congressional District. (April...

Grace Meng, Democratic candidate for the 6th Congressional District. (April 23, 2012) Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

Longtime Rep. Gary L. Ackerman is retiring, and his old territory has seen a major overhaul. Now New York City Councilman Daniel Halloran, a Republican, and Assemb. Grace Meng, a Democrat, are vying for his seat.

Halloran, 40, of Auburndale, Queens, is an ex-prosecutor and an ardent neighborhood advocate. On the council, he has fought to keep firehouses open and to prevent teacher layoffs. He says he wants to cut taxes and relieve governmental burdens on small businesses. He is also a steadfast opponent of residential overdevelopment.

Meng, 37, of Flushing, is the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants who blazed a path toward the American dream. She is a graduate of Stuyvesant High School, the University of Michigan and Cardozo School of Law in Manhattan. If she wins, she'd be the first Asian-American elected to Congress from New York State, representing a district that is 37 percent Asian and 17 percent Latino.

While her record as a legislator hasn't been extraordinary in the two terms she's served in Albany -- among her successful bills she cites a measure that removes the term "Oriental" from city and state documents and one that lets judges in hate-crime cases order counseling for convicts -- she has some strong arguments in her favor.

She is energetic and smart, and as a member of Congress, she could play a much-needed role in her district as a savvy provider of constituent services -- for example, helping resolve visa and immigration glitches, especially vexing to those seeking citizenship. Meng says Queens is overlooked when it comes to transportation and infrastructure needs and wants to improve mass transit access to LaGuardia Airport.

Newsday endorses Meng.