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One close call, one easy pick in the 27th District

Post by Kim Bradford on Oct. 5, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
October 5, 2010 5:34 pm

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

What we’re about to do is patently unfair.

The News Tribune is endorsing Laurie Jinkins for the open House seat in the 27th Legislative District.

Jinkins, the deputy director of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, every bit deserves our endorsement. But so does her opponent, Tacoma City Councilman Jake Fey.

Jinkins and Fey, both Democrats, are two of the strongest candidates running for Legislature this year in any race. We’d take them over some incumbents.

But voters can’t mark two names on their ballots. There has to be a tie breaker, and this was it for us: Tacoma needs Fey on the City Council, where he has become one of the few council members with the tenure and inclination to ask critical questions.

For some voters, that might be reason alone to elect him to the Legislature, which is also in desperate need of discerning eyes. Fey, the director of Washington State University’s Extension Energy Program, is thoughtful, smart and dedicated.

But we worry that Tacoma – now at an important juncture as it finally confronts economic realities – would suffer in Fey’s absence.

Jinkins would also lend considerable talent and fortitude to the Legislature. A lawyer and career government administrator, she says she only got into the race out of frustration over lawmakers’ failure to set spending targets and use priority-based budgeting.

She’s been heavily involved in the local community and is currently serving as the chairwoman of the Tacoma Community College board of trustees. Jinkins knows government, and she knows this community – two attributes that would make her a surefire leader in the Pierce County delegation.

In the race for the second House position in the 27th District, our decision was easier.

Jeannie Darneille, a Democrat who leads nonprofit organizations when she’s not at the Legislature, is seeking her sixth term in the House.

She is a defender of endangered social welfare programs and has worked her way into a position of influence as chairwoman of the General Government Appropriations Committee, which handles about 15 percent of the operating budget. Darneille would represent the district well.

Her opponent, Republican Jon Higley, is a retired teacher and the founder of the Tacoma 9/12 Project, a group focused on limited government. His firsthand knowledge of the challenges facing public education could be helpful, but his views generally are too conservative to be a good fit for such a blue district.

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