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Originally published September 30, 2014 at 4:17 PM | Page modified October 14, 2014 at 6:29 PM

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Editorial: The Times recommends Ross Hunter, Joan McBride and Cyrus Habib in the 48th District

Ross Hunter and Joan McBride are the best choices for the 48th Legislative District state House positions. Cyrus Habib is the best choice for the state Senate.

Seattle Times Editorial

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WASHINGTON’S 48th Legislative District, the “n”-shaped district situated between lakes Washington and Sammamish, tends to produce leaders located near the state’s political center. State Sen. Rodney Tom was one of the two Democrats who joined with minority Republicans to control the Senate and drive policy to the middle.

Tom is stepping down, but another district leader, incumbent state Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, should be returned to Olympia in Position 1. The House Appropriations Committee chairman delivers a direly needed pragmatic view of the state’s challenges in meeting the state Supreme Court’s McCleary order to fully fund basic education. The Legislature would be weaker without him.

Meanwhile, state Rep. Cyrus Habib, D-Kirkland, is the best candidate to fill the vacant Senate seat, and voters should elect Joan McBride to replace him in Position 2.

Now in his sixth term, Hunter says he is “done” slashing budgets and acknowledges the need for new revenues to meet the McCleary obligation.

Hunter sees his job as producing a budget “that balances the services people want with the taxes needed to pay for them, and deliver the service in a cost-effective way.” His track record reflects that. His willingness to differ with powerful special interests, such as the Washington Education Association, not only helps state voters get a fiscally balanced budget but an ideologically balanced one as well.

Hunter’s opponent, perennial single-issue Republican candidate Bill Hirt offers the same recipe of concerns about Sound Transit that voters have repeatedly rejected.

In the state Senate race, Habib brings a thoughtful, bipartisan verve from his freshman term as a state representative. He’s shown independence in approaching education and tax reform, and offers a studious heft to policy discussions as the state faces an array of difficult financial challenges. Habib is the clear choice here.

Republican Michelle Darnell states her primary qualification for the position as being a mother of four who endured economic hardship during the recession. That may give her more of a grass-roots understanding of the district than her opponent, but those experiences alone hardly qualify her for a Senate seat.

Still, Darnell is earnest and dedicated. With better preparation and reflection on the issues facing Washington, she could make a more appealing candidate in the future.

In the Position 2 seat, McBride, a Democrat, appears to be a status-quo politician with few new ideas. She admitted forgoing the Senate campaign because “I just want to go to Olympia,” but she is the clear choice in her race.

Her Libertarian Party opponent, Tim Turner, a Bellevue teacher, software engineer and Navy veteran, seems more preoccupied with his libertarian beliefs than with the effects of their practical application. Turner promotes economic growth, but opposes a transportation package that the Washington business community has pleaded for.

McBride, having served as a Kirkland City Council member and mayor, would bring a local understanding of state issues. But she should explore issues more deeply and avoid becoming a reliable vote for the House Democratic Caucus if she wants to be an effective state lawmaker.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Jonathan Martin, Thanh Tan, Blanca Torres, Robert J. Vickers, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).

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