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Originally published October 31, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified November 3, 2008 at 11:05 AM

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Seattle Times endorsements for Election Day

Here's a comprehensive list of endorsements for contests that have grabbed your attention and rattled your TV sets this election season.

WHEW! The longest election season in history ends, mercifully, Tuesday. We will find out if this is a transformational election that alters our politics for a long time, or if it will be more like other elections — a change here, a tinker there.

We prefer the former. Here is our comprehensive list of endorsements for contests that have grabbed your attention and rattled your TV sets this election season.

President

First and foremost, voters should enthusiastically cast ballots for Democratic Sen. Barack Obama for president of the United States. He is the smooth operator who conducted himself admirably during an absurdly long election season. He has the temperament, judgment and all-around smarts to lead us out of two Bush-era fiascos — one financial, the other in foreign affairs.

Sen. John McCain is a decent man, a solid senator. He is not the right person to change Washington, D.C. He is too much of Washington. His behavior, as evidenced by his absurd choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate, is too erratic.

Obama, by stark contrast, has the first-class intellect and demeanor to lead us. He is full of fresh ideas and a sense that he either knows the answers to the toughest questions in decades or he knows whom to ask. The endorsement of Obama by Gen. Colin Powell puts a new mark of distinction on his candidacy. Obama has a clearheaded plan for getting out of Iraq and focusing the nation's resources on helping America's struggling middle class. The problems are huge. The change must be broad and sweeping.

Congress

In the only truly competitive congressional race in our region, voters in the 8th District of eastern King and Pierce counties should select Republican Congressman Dave Reichert. His Democratic opponent, Darcy Burner, has improved since her run in 2006 but Reichert is still the better pick.

Reichert distinguishes himself from his party when it counts and he has made himself one of the greener Republican members of Congress. This is not a caterpillar wondrously turning himself into a butterfly. He reflects the sensibilities of a highly educated, sophisticated district. These voters insist that he casts yes votes for the Wild Sky Wilderness and improvements to Mount Rainier National Park and a no vote to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Governor

In an election about change and boosting the flagging economy, the endorsement for governor goes to Republican Dino Rossi. The choice boils down to a bet on who is best qualified to manage our state in a downturn. Rossi, more than the current Gov. Christine Gregoire, has a better chance of balancing the budget without raising taxes. Gregoire says she, too, will not raise taxes, but how hard will she fight a Democratic Legislature? Rossi is more likely to live up to that promise and negotiate a better deal on health care with state employees, who pay too little in premiums. Democrats have been in control of the governor's mansion a long time.

Statewide offices

Republican Secretary of State Sam Reed has earned a third term at the helm of Washington's elections. He is the Steady Eddie on elections who pushed hard for reforms in a state that needs to rebuild trust in its election system. He ushered in an important new statewide voter-registration system to help guard against fraud.

For state auditor, voters should support Democrat Brian Sonntag, a reliable public servant who finds numerous ways to enhance the credibility of state and local government. He is the champion of performance audits, completing 11 of them. The changes recommended could save billions. Sonntag is a crusader for open government and he is well prepared to provide four more years of solid work.

The next state treasurer should be Allan Martin, a Republican who currently serves as assistant treasurer to retiring treasurer Mike Murphy. Murphy, a Democrat, endorses his staffer, which speaks volumes. Martin is skilled and ready to make sound financial decisions as he manages the state's cash and sells its bonds.

For state attorney general, Democrat John Ladenburg has given the incumbent a vigorous challenge. But our support goes to Republican Rob McKenna, who is doing a very good job. McKenna is strong in creating new public-safety programs and adept at supporting the right of the people to get information from state and local government. McKenna is a sturdy, competent lawyer, the right guy at the right time.

Our endorsement for commissioner of public lands goes to Democratic challenger Peter Goldmark, an Okanogan rancher with a doctorate in molecular biology. It is not too strong to say Mother Nature intervened in this campaign. Flooding in Lewis County caused $57 million in property damage. A Seattle Times investigation pointed toward an absence of expert review of slide potential on land approved for clear-cutting. We endorsed incumbent Doug Sutherland in other years but this time Goldmark provides the bigger worldview.

Terry Bergeson has been the superintendent of public instruction for the past 12 years, tumultuous ones at times. She has earned one more term because of her solid job of keeping our schools performing above the national average. Yes, there have been some stumbles, particularly on the math portion of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning. Bergeson, more than her thoughtful challenger, Randy Dorn, is ready to make necessary changes in the test. Our students do not have time to get bogged down while a whole new test is created.

Voters ought to back Democrat Mike Kreidler once again for state insurance commissioner. He has only token opposition from Seattle insurance broker John Adams. Kreidler does a good job but he could be more vigorous in ensuring a more competitive market in health insurance.

For a variety of reasons, we recommend a vote for Republican challenger Marcia McCraw for lieutenant governor over incumbent Brad Owen. The Seattle attorney offers an opportunity for new ideas and energy.

Statewide initiatives

Vote an emphatic NO on Initiative 985. At first blush, this measures sounds great. Be careful what you wish for. The so-called "reduce traffic congestion initiative" would worsen congestion. This misguided initiative reduces safety in many local communities, raids Eastern Washington treasuries to pay for Puget Sound congestion relief and exacerbates traffic in many areas. If this measure passes, bus travel will slow and more people will get back in their cars. More congestion.

Vote YES on Initiative 1000, the so-called "death with dignity" measure. This initiative creates a way for a terminally ill citizen to acquire a lethal dose of drugs. The law is specific and restrictive. It would allow this choice only to people with fewer than six months to live, backed by witnesses and with input from two doctors. Obviously, this is a tough decision for any individual or family but we believe it should be the right of the terminally ill to decide themselves.

REJECT Initiative 1029. This initiative would require extra training and state licensing of long-term-care workers. We recommend saying no because this is the sort of specialized legislation that belongs in the Legislature.

Local measures

Vote NO on the Seattle Parks Levy. This is an attempt to turn the eight-year park levy into an all-but-permanent taxing system for parks outside the regular budget. This is ill-timed and ill-presented.

Vote YES on the Pike Place Market Levy. Mindful of difficult economic times, voters have to pick their spending carefully. The market levy is a one-time proposal to fix basic infrastructure such as plumbing, heat and cooling, improve bathrooms and shore up seismic structure.

Vote NO on Proposition 1, Sound Transit light rail and buses. The latest proposal is a bad plan. It costs too much and achieves too little. This plan is being marketed as the solution to immediate needs but only a few buses and commuter trains come soon. The light-rail part of the package happens later, some of it in the 2020s.

Vote YES on the Bellevue Parks Levy.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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