Even though Elaine Turley, the chair of the Smithtown Democratic Committee, is qualified to represent this northwest Suffolk district, she graciously admits she won't win, and thinks her opponent, Robert Trotta, a Republican from Kings Park, would do a good job.

She's right on both counts.

Turley, 56, an elder-law attorney from Fort Salonga, entered the race in this heavily GOP area to drive her goal that quality health care be delivered in county clinics. The untimely death of her sister, possibly because of a late cancer diagnosis, inspires her just as the death of Trotta's brother reminded him it was time to find another job he could pursue with the same passion he had for policing.

Trotta, 51, has adopted Turley's concern about the clinics -- and that may be good indicator that by temperament and training, Trotta has the traits needed for the job. On Jan. 1, he intends to retire as a Suffolk County police detective after serving for about half of his 25 years on a joint task force with the FBI. That unique perch gave Trotta an understanding of how the county loses revenue from criminal enterprises and how drug trafficking undermines our communities.

He has some fresh ideas about what can be done to address these problems, such as suing tobacco wholesalers for sending excess cartons of untaxed cigarettes to local Indian reservations, costing Suffolk millions in revenue.

Trotta's work as a member of the Kings Park Civic Association builds on his talent for listening and finding workable solutions. A seat on the legislature would give him the clout to find suitable development, such as senior housing, on a parcel of land at the former Kings Park Psychiatric Center as well as making the recreational use of the neighboring state park a driver of increased economic activity in the downtown.

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Trotta recognizes that increased sewer capacity is important for growth and environmental preservation and will smartly direct his focus there. Both Trotta and Turley favor turning the former Foley nursing home into a jail diversion program if it would rescue lives and save county dollars.

Newsday endorses Trotta.