In Our View: An Abundance of Motivation

Crucial state and local decisions will be made in this year's election

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Tips for voters

• The Columbian’s editorial endorsements.

• For online local and statewide Voters’ Pamphlets.

For voters who have become disenchanted by all of the partisan blathering on the national political front, there remains plenty of motivation on the state and national fronts to participate Nov. 6. Here are several reasons we believe this election warrants every voter's attention:The governor's race is razor-thin and getting even closer with only about two weeks left in the campaign. If you're a Democrat or lean in that direction, you might want to keep the governor's post in the possession of the same party that has held it for 32 years. And you'll be gratified to know that Democrat Jay Inslee has a slight lead (47.9 percent to 44.7 percent) over Republican Rob McKenna, according to last week's KCTS 9 poll.

If you're a Republican or lean in that direction, you might want to shift that governor's post to the GOP for the first time since 1980, when McKenna was student body president at the University of Washington. And you'll be encouraged to read the list on the facing page of endorsements by major newspapers around the state. Among nine papers reviewed, McKenna is endorsed by eight, and Inslee by none of the nine we reviewed.

Such a close race for the state's most powerful position is not rare. In 2004, 133 votes (out of 2.8 million cast) separated winner Chris Gregoire and Dino Rossi, in what is believed to be the nation's closest gubernatorial election ever. That's a good reason to vote this year.

Majority control of both chambers of the Legislature hangs in the balance with this election. Writing recently for crosscut.com, Chris Vance (GOP state chair 2001-2006) observed that four races appear competitive in the state Senate, and Republicans need to win three to gain a 25-24 majority. One of those four is the battle in Clark County's 17th Legislative District between incumbent Republican Don Benton and Democrat Tim Probst.

In the House, Republicans need to pick up eight seats to take control. Nine races appear very competitive, but Vance says a Republican majority appears unlikely. Still, if Republicans post gains for the third straight election, "Seattle Democrats will not have effective control of the Senate floor given the number of moderate, 'roadkill' Democrats who will be willing to work with the GOP."

Races for statewide executive offices are extremely close, largely because four are open (no incumbent) seats: governor, secretary of state, attorney general and auditor.

Then there are ultra-consequential ballot measures at both the state and local levels. Statewide, Washingtonians will decide about legalizing the use of marijuana, affirming gay-marriage legislation, starting public charter schools and requiring two-thirds legislative approval of tax hikes.

Locally, voters in the C-Tran service district will decide if the district's sales tax should be increased to fund maintenance and operation of light rail plus a Bus Rapid Transit system for the Fourth Plain corridor. And Vancouver voters will determine if a Metropolitan Parks District with taxing authority is to be created.

Those are all the reasons you need to participate in the Nov. 6 election. No wonder both state and local elections officials are projecting voter turnouts exceeding 80 percent. Plan to be a part of it!