| 17 Feb 2015 | 04:42

    Over the last two years, we as a country have had the enjoyment of watching a good old fashioned, competitive presidential election. Here in Manhattan, though, we've missed out. Our races for Congress and State Legislature, especially during the primaries, have been lackluster at best and devoid of competition at worst. This isn't good for the state, the city or democracy as a whole. While New York is certainly a blue city, and we as a newspaper tend to favor the Democrats who have run, we can still remember a time when the GOP had a serious role to play in local races. Public servants like Roy Goodman, Charles Millard, Andrew Eristoff and John Ravitz were substantive legislators and brought the political dialogue to another level, forcing Democrats to up their game. With a few exceptions, like West Side Assembly candidate Saul Farber, Republican challengers are not even making a serious attempt to attract voters this year. Some have told us they are not actively campaigning, while others haven't even bothered to return calls. This is pathetic. Democrats shouldn't get off the hook, either. Primary challengers, if they come along, typically run anemic campaigns, and there are incumbents who pursue frivolous lawsuits to kick rivals off the ballot. In a city with such depth of talent, ambition and civic-mindedness, voters should not have to settle for the same candidates year after year. There's no easy answer to this problem, though the solution likely includes more robust campaigns from challengers, easing the requirements for getting on the ballot and heightened interest from voters. That being said, there are incumbents who are dedicated public servants with admirable track records. And if Democrats take the majority in the State Senate, we would like to see them live up to their promises of reform, especially when it comes to a more transparent and equitable legislative process. Other issues of importance that should be at the top of legislators' agendas include affordable housing, a 21st-century transit system, access to healthcare and high quality public education. Here are our choices for the Congressional and State Legislature races before voters this Nov. 4. ? 8th Congressional District: Jerrold Nadler Despite not returning our endorsement questionnaire, there is nothing we can say about Nadler that has not been said already. He is a solid Congressman who has gone above and beyond in delivering for his constituents, and even those outside his district. In Congress, he has been an unwavering progressive voice whose influence has only grown since Democrats took over Capitol Hill. ? 15th Congressional District: Charles Rangel Rangel has had a spate of bad news concerning his living situation and tax payments (or lack thereof), an especially onerous charge given his position as chair of the Ways and Means Committee. But he did not shy away from an investigation into his records, and he is an icon in Harlem and the city in general. In the district, Rangel has been a staunch advocate of affordable housing, job creation and the rezoning of West Harlem. ? 29th State Senate District: Tom Duane Duane, a Democrat, also has a challenger who is not actively campaigning, Republican Debra Leible. Duane has some excellent-and specific-ideas about how to trim New York's budget by consolidating state agencies, and how to address the MTA's budget shortfall. He is also dedicated to reforming the Rockefeller drug laws, preserving affordable housing and passing same-sex civil marriage legislation. ? 30th State Senate District: Bill Perkins Democrat Perkins is another incumbent who doesn't have a Republican challenger. Like many of his colleagues, he's committed to education, affordable housing, job creation and promoting civil rights. He also continues to address lead poisoning issues across the state, and created an eminent domain task force. ? 31st State Senate District: Eric Schneiderman Schneiderman, a Democrat, has a clear understanding of the legislative process and a firm grasp of the complex issues facing the state. He has a number of smart, concrete ideas for closing the budget gap, and for shoring up the MTA's finances. His Republican challenger, Martin Chicon, is a little thin on details. ? 67th Assembly District: Linda Rosenthal Democrat Rosenthal has a challenger in name only, Eleanor Friedman, a Republican. Rosenthal good ideas about how to tackle budget shortfalls, including collecting taxes the sale of Indian reservation cigarettes to non-tribe members and aggressively going after Medicaid fraud. She also has the right priorities for her district: preserving affordable housing and protecting tenants; tackling school overcrowding; and improving the quality of life on the West Side. ? 69th Assembly District: Daniel O'Donnell Democrat O'Donnell, who has no challenger, has recently worked on legislation that protected youth offenders who have unproven allegations on their records; addressed water pollution; and established a Sustainable Transportation Policy Task Force. His goals for the future include preserving affordable housing, pushing for smaller class sizes and creating a Morningside Heights historic district. ? 75th Assembly District: Richard Gottfried We wish there were more Republicans like Saul Farber: dedicated, passionate, and honest. He is running a campaign that truly defines "uphill battle." Still, there is a reason Gottfried has been in his seat since 1970. He also captures those qualities we appreciate in Farber and has been an exemplary Assembly member that we want in office when the budget gets slashed, services cut, and progressive ideals threatened by upstate Republicans.