In his first two years in Albany, Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola) has shown that his effectiveness as mayor of Mineola was no fluke. He has been a thoughtful, serious, reasonable legislator, too.

In this year's legislative session, in fact, Martins, 45, says he had more bills signed into law than any other Long Island senator. He chairs the Local Government Committee and sits on the Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Committee. That gives him a catbird seat on issues concerning the way state and local goverments are structured.

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His Democratic opponent is Daniel Ross, 29, of Manhasset. After five years with Deutsche Bank, Ross left and went into auto sales, rising to general manager of a dealership. Last year, he ran unsuccessfully for fire commissioner in the Manhasset-Lakeville Volunteer Fire Department. This year, he makes the big leap to a Senate race.

On one of the most important issues in this district, Martins and Ross agree: They don't favor a casino at Belmont Racetrack. But the community desperately needs real economic development. The two differ over what that development should look like. Martins says that with community approval, he could support the idea of a soccer stadium for the New York Cosmos. Ross opposes it, and he faults Martins for moving too slowly on Belmont.

Though Ross shows promise, Martins is just the kind of hard-working, nonideological, no-nonsense senator this district needs. His challenge for the next two years is to get something real and beneficial happening at Belmont. Newsday endorses Martins.