OUR PICKS in two state House races:

172nd District: Richard Costello is a retired Philadelphia cop, best known for being president of the Fraternal Order of Police. He served in that role for 10 years, representing a union constituency, running for re-election, and interacting with state representatives, senators and City Council members.

Tim Kearney, a warehouse worker and former aide to the late Councilman David Cohen, is making another run for the 172nd seat, held for 30 years by John Perzel, who could be vulnerable in November now that he's no longer House speaker. Costello is his party's pick. Kearney is admirable and well-meaning, but we wonder whether his deep-seated dislike for the incumbent, which has driven him to run three times in the last four years, can be transformed into the thoughtful pragmatism needed in Harrisburg. Costello's background gives him the step-up he needs to be an effective lawmaker.

184th District: In Philadelphia, politics is a family business and (perhaps because of that) a blood sport. This race is no exception: Christian DiCicco is not only the son of Councilman Frank DiCicco, but builds his nest in the Fumo family tree. He challenges Bill Keller, long- time incumbent, who nests in the John Doughtery family tree. This is the essential Hafield-McCoy smackdown. We have problems with both candidates. We've already itemized the problems with the bad behavior of the Dougherty camp. The problem with the Fumo camp is the 139-count indictment. But measuring the potential for change, Christian DiCicco is our call. A lawyer and SEPTA board member, his experience is running Citizens Alliance, a community group.

Of course, that's a toxic connection, given that its creation is at the center of the indictment. But DiCicco himself isn't toxic. And if he's learned from his father, he will be an effective lawmaker. Given Keller's seven terms, his tenure should have produced a more stellar track record. *