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Originally published October 14, 2009 at 2:21 PM | Page modified October 14, 2009 at 4:31 PM

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The Times recommends Conlin, Bagshaw, Israel and Rosencrantz for Seattle City Council

The Seattle Times endorses Richard Conlin for re-election and three newcomers to the City Council — Sally Bagshaw, Jessie Israel and Robert Rosencrantz.

FOR years, Seattle has been known as a city that works — relatively low crime, decent jobs, great public amenities and a government that served citizens almost seamlessly. This past year, however, a poorly managed snow response, rising crime and a very distressed economy knocked the city off its lofty perch.

A few high-quality candidates eager to join the City Council use different words and emphasize different issues but all want to help Seattle regain its mojo. Vigorous debate has emerged about public safety, transportation and responsible leadership.

In Position 2, Council President Richard Conlin is seeking re-election and wins our support. It's not that we agree with Conlin often; we don't. But he does have the guts to admit he goofed when he voted for the wrongheaded employee head tax that nettles businesses large and small. He is one of the council members leading the charge for repeal.

His challenger, David Gins-berg, shares many of the same values. The key difference is who is more enthusiastic about environmental sustainability — not much of a differentiation at all. Ginsberg is in more of a hurry, which comes off as naive. Conlin has learned he is only one vote. With a new mayor coming in, Conlin's experience will be helpful.

Councilmember Jan Drago is leaving council Position 4 after an unsuccessful run for mayor. Two candidates have emerged, but our endorsement goes to Sally Bagshaw, former chief of the civil division in the King County prosecutor's office. She is one of the most studied candidates we have encountered in a while. She is not afraid to say she likely will support Councilmember Tim Burgess' plan to tighten rules on aggressive panhandling. She understands what other major cities do in big snowstorms and grasps the kind of response citizens deserve.

Her opponent, David Bloom, is an earnest, caring citizen who has worked for years on behalf of the disadvantaged. As a council member, however, he would see too many issues through the prism of his earlier career and miss the broad sweep of topics facing a legislator for the entire city.

In the race for Position 6, Jessie Israel gets The Times's endorsement. Her opponent, Councilmember Nick Licata has served Seattle well at times with a shrewd eye. But his contrarian streak has done harm. His comments to a national magazine that the Sonics added nothing to the city set a poisonous tone that eventually led to the team moving to Oklahoma City.

Israel brings a fresh perspective to the council. She doesn't look at issues in isolation, preferring, for example, to examine how projects like the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement or the redesign of Mercer Street fit with other road and transportation projects, and how these projects impact neighborhoods.

Israel's thoughtfulness would be a welcome addition to a council that can be tone-deaf to the daily needs of city residents.

Councilmember Richard McIver is retiring this year from Position 8. Robert Rosencrantz is the better choice to replace him. Rosencrantz has been active for many years in creating affordable housing for working families and has worked on low-income rural housing around the state.

This is Rosencrantz' third campaign to join the council. In other words, he's eager to serve. It is our experience candidates who want the job that badly become high-quality legislators quickly after the election. Studying issues during three election cycles is a huge benefit.

Rosencrantz' opponent, Mike O'Brien, a former chief financial officer for a law firm and recent chapter chair for the Sierra Club, is plenty smart. But he comes with an agenda that might be a little too green, even for Seattle. He opposes the tunnel and wants to toll city streets to manage congestion and reduce other taxes that pay for transportation. His user-fee idea is too anti-driver and over-the-top.

Vote confidently for Robert Rosencrantz, Sally Bagshaw, Jessie Israel and Richard Conlin.

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