WE SEE IT OUT in the streets, and we hear it in forums, meetings and debates: The city is ripe for a new day, and a slate of do-good reformers is poised to take on City Hall, both in the mayor's office and in City Council.

On numbers alone, the at-large race has the best possibilities: 19 candidates, including five incumbents, vying for five slots. This is where we should be arguing for a whole, fresh slate of candidates, to shepherd in this new day. Except it turns out to be not that simple.

Are there five new faces who could challenge the status quo? Sure. Are they qualified to unseat some of the experienced incumbent legislative hands? That's where it gets complicated.

In trying for a balance of maturity, freshness, experience and perspective, we offer less than a pure reform slate. But this slate has the best chance to produce good things for the city.

First, the new guys: Andy Toy and Matt Ruben.

Ruben, a teacher and Northern Liberties community leader, is probably the only candidate campaigning who finished his Ph.D. right before the primary. (It's from Penn.) Articulate, energetic and close-to-the-grassroots, he could provide an informed, intelligent and youthful perspective.

Toy, who has expertise in community and economic development, served in the city Commerce Department, and earned degrees in public and urban policy from Penn. He serves as chairman of the Chinatown Development Corp. and could bring an important voice from that community to Council.

Incumbent Blondell Reynolds Brown has championed children's issues, the arts and the parks. She has stepped out of her polite realm in her fight to make change in the parks, and we'd love to see her do more of that in her third term.

Wilson Goode is wonky, prickly, and the son of a former mayor, which alone should disqualify him from any reform movement, but he fights hard on important issues like banking equity and minority participation, and he has the guts to be contrary.

With his recent attempt to gut the city's campaign-finance reform, and his key to the Fumo clubhouse, Jim Kenney doesn't belong on a reform ballot either. Except he, too, provides a needed critical voice on the fourth floor, and legislative ballast.

Other challengers who made this decision difficult: Sharif Street is impressive and needs a little more time to earn a track record on his own name. Derek Green has much to offer the city, as does incumbent William K. Greenlee (whom we endorsed in the special election).

(Yesterday's 4th District endorsement inadvertently omitted mention of Matt McClure, whom we thought a worthy challenger.) *