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.
• Initiative 1240 would allow the creation of up to 40 public charter schools, an option already available to parents and students in 41 states. Charter schools elsewhere have proven successful at educating disadvantaged children in urban school districts. A state that gives children priority over the K-12 establishment won’t deny them this option.
• Initiative 502 is a good-faith effort to legalize marijuana with responsible regulations. If the world consisted only of adults, we’d endorse it. As written, it would inevitably lead to expanded use of marijuana by adolescents, who are far more likely to have their lives derailed by habitual use of the drug.
• Proposition 1 in Pierce County’s transit district would enact a three-tenths of 1 percent sales tax to avert a looming implosion of bus service; it would restore revenues lost in the recession. We believe transportation – to jobs, schools, stores and medical appointments – is a human necessity and vital to the economy.
The News Tribune’s Voters Guide, assembled by TNT news reporters and editors, provides one-stop shopping for information on the candidates and ballot measures. Find it at thenewstribune.com/news/election.