Inside Opinion

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Tag: endorsements


A quick tour of our choices for the November ballot

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Since the middle of May – five months ago – the editorial board of The News Tribune has been immersed in homework on the ballots now arriving in mail boxes across the state.

We’ve been studying initiatives and issues, interviewing candidates for the August primary, and interviewing yet more candidates for the Nov. 6 election. Since July, we’ve been publishing our conclusions.

Just to the left is a summary of the endorsements and recommendations we’ve run to date. Here are highlights (or lowlights, if you prefer):

• For governor, we believe state Attorney General Rob McKenna is the better choice. Unlike his Democratic opponent, Jay Inslee, McKenna has made a serious effort to lay out detailed plans to deal with the state’s problems – funding basic education chief among them. He also has substantial administrative experience, which Inslee lacks.

• For the U.S. Senate, we’ve endorsed Maria Cantwell. For the House, we’ve endorsed Derek Kilmer in the 6th Congressional District, Dave Reichert in the 8th, Adam Smith in the 9th and Denny Heck in the 10th.

We’d like to make special mention of Kilmer, a state senator who faces a heavily self-funded opponent, Weyerhaeuser heir Bill Driscoll. Driscoll has much to recommend him, but Kilmer has been an effective and unusually thoughtful lawmaker. He has a profound understanding of job creation and grass-roots economics – expertise that’s desperately needed in Congress. He also possesses a quality that’s too scarce in Washington, D.C.: genuine niceness.

• A yes vote on Referendum 74 would affirm the gay marriage law that cleared the Legislature this year. We see this as a civil rights issue and believe the law reflects Washington’s historic commitment to equality. Its passage could make Washington the first state to enact same-sex marriage by popular vote – a historic milestone.
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About these endorsements

Is voter turnout an end in itself? History tells us otherwise.

Personally, I’d rather have 20 percent of the citizens casting educated votes than 80 percent of them picking candidates on the basis of Anglo-Saxon names, misleading slogans or photogenic looks.

Uneducated ballots can be dangerous. Ignorant voters, for example, once used to elect Klansmen to state legislatures. In Pierce County in 2008, voters elected Michael Hecht to the Superior Court; he was soon convicted of patronizing a prostitute and felony harassment, and kicked off the bench.

The same year, voters elected a veritable loon as assessor-treasurer. Dale Washam has been busy ever since wrecking his office and the county treasury.

We don’t like to see train wrecks in government. That’s one of the reasons The News Tribune’s editorial board makes endorsements and recommendations in local and state elections.

The five of us – Publisher David Zeeck, Executive Editor Karen Peterson, Managing Editor Dale Phelps, editorial writer Cheryl Tucker and myself – have been closely following and covering the South Sound and Washington state for more than 100 years, collectively.

We’re a long way from infallible, but we’ve been around the block. We know many of the major candidates personally and have interviewed most of the others. We can generally spot a disaster in the making.

We’ve just begun printing our endorsements for the Aug. 7 primary. On Friday we endorsed Republican Kim Wyman and Democrat Jim Kastama for secretary of state. On Sunday, we endorsed Steve Gonzalez, John Ladenburg and Susan Owens for the three contested Washington Supreme Court seats. Today we endorse Tim Farrell and Billie O’Brien in the primary contest for assessor-treasurer.

Why do we pick two candidates in some races?

Although Washington’s primary is now officially a nonpartisan affair, many Democrats and Republicans still vote on the basis of political affiliation. We try to identify the best candidate from each party.

We do not endorse unaffiliated candidates, candidates who’ve invented their own parties, candidates from microscopic parties or candidates who put their names on the ballot but don’t actively campaign.
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Our choices for Tacoma Public Schools: Gordon, Vialle

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Tacoma voters this year enjoy an embarrassment of riches in their school board candidates.

Three of the best candidates we’ve ever seen have stepped forward to help govern Tacoma Public Schools, one of the most complex and challenging school districts in the country. And the fourth candidate is no slouch.

Tacoma’s schools need the best oversight possible. They struggle with poverty, an unacceptable dropout rate and a frustratingly persistent achievement gap between disadvantaged students and their more affluent classmates. This gap often breaks along racial lines, between white and Asian students on one hand and black and Hispanic students on the other.

The school board plays a crucial role in addressing these problems.

Running for Position 3 are the stellar Dexter Gordon and Scott Heinze.
Heinze has a remarkable breadth of experience. He’s been an aide to U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, a police officer, a homeland security adviser to state leaders, among other positions. He’s exceptionally bright and is currently working toward a doctorate at Gonzaga University.
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We’re better off without I-1183’s liquor privatization

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

A year ago, the editorial board of The News Tribune endorsed a measure that would have privatized the sale of liquor in Washington. We all make mistakes.

We endorsed last year’s Initiative 1100 because it was clearly better than a competing privatization scheme, Initiative 1105. By a split decision, we also concluded that selling liquor simply wasn’t a core function of state government.

That was philosophy. We’ve since been swayed by practical reality. The reality is that dramatically expanding access to distilled spirits – which this year’s Initiative 1183 would do – is bound to have social costs that outweigh the benefits of privatization.

We’re also not enamored by the spectacle of a single company, Costco, attempting to purchase an election and buy a state policy that would pump untold millions into its bottom line.

I-1183 is tailored to favor large-volume buyers of wholesale whiskey, rum, etc. The initiative’s value to Costco – one of the kings of volume purchasing – is such that the company has so far invested more than $22 million in the campaign to pass it. This constitutes nearly all of the money behind I-1183.
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Our choices for Puyallup City Council

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

In the past few years, Puyallup City Council meetings have become notorious for contention and disruption. Some of the candidates running for election this year go so far as to call it “embarrassing.”

After the Nov. 8 election there will be at least three new faces on the council. “Works well with others” isn’t usually at the top of the list of candidate qualifications, but it should be a consideration in this case. Policymaking bodies can’t do their best work without a modicum of civility and decorum.

Here are our choices for the contested positions:

At-large: Steve Vermillion is, hands down, the best qualified of the candidates for this seat.

His opponent, Nicole Martineau, was appointed to the council early last year, and she’s done a reasonably good job. Much of her involvement in city affairs has come recently. Vermillion has formidable credentials, including a career as a highly decorated retired military officer.

The tone of Vermillion’s campaign has disappointed us; it’s been nasty at times. But there’s no denying his leadership qualities and impressive qualifications for the council.

District 1, Position 2: We endorsed downtown businessman and Puyallup Mainstreet director John Hopkins in the primary, and he still has our support. A gracious, intelligent chap (he’s a naturalized citizen from Great Britain), he likely would contribute to a more temperate atmosphere.

That wouldn’t be the case with his opponent, retired railroad employee Tom Smillie. At a notorious 2009 council meeting, he was one of the citizens who began shouting at council members so angrily that the police were called in.

According to the videotaped recording of the meeting, Smillie said, “You people want to be un-elected? You just signed your death warrant as far as that goes . . . I will march until the soles of my shoes have holes and blood runs out the bottom, and you won’t get elected again.”

Smillie later stormed out of the meeting while pointing at four members of the council and said, “You’re done, you’re done, you’re done, and you’re done.”

Scary guy. Smillie is temperamentally unfit for any public office. Voters should elect the affable and well-informed Hopkins.
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For Congress: Re-elect Dicks, Reichert and Smith

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

This is one of those “throw the bums out” years. But the South Sound’s three U.S. representatives aren’t bums, and it would be dumb to throw them out.

In fact, the region could lose much of its influence in Congress if Norm Dicks of the 6th Congressional District, Dave Reichert of the 8th and Adam Smith of the 9th lost their jobs.

In terms of raw clout, Dicks is the mightiest of the three – one of the mightiest in the country, for that matter. His 34 years in the House and parliamentary skills have landed him in positions of enormous power in the House Appropriations Committee: chairman of the defense subcommittee and vice-chair of the interior subcommittee.

As such, he has helped secure Washington’s share of the federal budget, steering countless appropriations toward the state and the 6th District, which covers the Olympic Peninsula, University Place and parts of Tacoma and Lakewood. Federal funding of the cleanup of Puget Sound, for example, has multiplied many times over on his watch. Dicks is also one of Congress’ leading authorities on defense and military policy, which makes him an ideal advocate for Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.
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For the 2nd district: Jim McCune, Tom Campbell

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Voters in the 2nd Legislative District face a curious pair of choices in November: in House Position 1, down-home vs. down-home; in House Position 2, sophistication vs. sophistication.

The Position 1 candidates, Republican state Rep. Jim McCune and Democrat Marilyn Rasmussen, seem almost the embodiment of this largely rural district, which covers south Pierce County and parts of Thurston County. McCune is a commercial fisherman; Rasmussen – a former lawmaker – is a farmer.

Both are good-natured, unassuming, salt-of-the-earth individuals who reflect the district’s character and values. Rasmussen has a lengthy and

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Once again, here come the endorsements

The News Tribune and its predecessor papers have run election endorsements for a lot longer than I’ve been here – way back into the 1800s, probably. But some people are always shocked and annoyed when we start publishing them.

We have standard explanations for why we endorse. The best is that The News Tribune’s opinion pages comment on issues affecting the South Sound all year long. Our editorial board isn’t going to suddenly go silent when it comes to choosing the leaders who will – for good or ill – shape the region’s future.

Voters can do what they please with our endorsements; most probably ignore them. But we’ve got as much interest in who gets elected as, say, the Labor Council, the Municipal League or the Republican Party. We also work hard to educate ourselves; we try to interview every serious candidate in every race we get into.

Another explanation has to do with history. Newspapers have always made election endorsements. Before the Civil War, in fact, virtually all newspapers existed to promote political parties, religious beliefs or other causes. It wouldn’t have occurred to anyone that they shouldn’t make endorsements. They often put them on the front page.
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