There are three House contests of particular interest to Northern Virginians.

In the Seventh District, where Republican J. Kenneth Robinson is retiring, Democrat Lewis M. Costello and Republican D. French Slaughter Jr. have been locked in a vigorous battle that has focused on the 20-year voting record of Mr. Slaughter in the General Assembly. That record included support for segregated schools, the poll tax, sterilization for epileptics and mentally handicapped people and opposition to civil and voting rights measures. While many other politicians were on the same (grotesque) side of those issues back when they arose, most either have changed their views, suffered defeat or gotten out of politics. Mr. Slaughter has yet to do any of these things -- any and all of which would be desirable in his case. Mr. Costello, a Winchester lawyer, considers himself conservative on many issues and says he will support the president when he thinks it is right. His is a far more sensible approach to representation than that offered by his opponent.

In the Eighth District, for more than a decade, voters have been represented off and on by Stanford Parris, Republican, or Herbert E. Harris, Democrat. This time, they have a promise of intelligent, experienced service from Democrat Richard L. Saslaw. It would be welcome relief from the undistinguished record of Mr. Parris, whose idea of local service seems to consist of attacks on the existence of Lorton and/or the District of Columbia, and who has yet to be the chief sponsor of any significant bill coming out of Congress. Mr. Saslaw, who describes himself as a moderate, has enjoyed strong bipartisan support in his successful campaigns for the state senate, where he has been regarded as an effective legislator. He deserves the opportunity to represent his district in the House.

In the Tenth District, Republican Rep. Frank Wolf -- in contrast to his party colleague Mr. Parris -- works hard and cooperatively with other members of Congress from the region, Democrats as well as Republicans. His service has included leadership in the efforts for a more balanced airport policy, for a complete Metro subway system and for sensible improvements and uses of key highways. His opponent is Democrat John Flannery, who has never held elective office and whose knowledge of local affairs is limited by his relatively short residence in the district (since '81). Mr. Flannery has a pugnacious style, high energy and ambition. But Mr. Wolf's diligence and his efforts to avoid partisan polarization have earned him strong support in this district, and he deserves reelection.