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Voter turnout is expected to be light next Tuesday and that's too bad. There are a several important local and state races to be decided. If you don't vote that means the votes of those who do will be so much more potent.

If you've studied the ballot, followed the news coverage and/or attended any of the candidate forums in person or on television (thanks again, KEET-TV and the League of Women Voters), you're probably ready to vote. If you need suggestions or are still befuddled, the Journal is making some recommendations.

First, why endorse? Because the contests below are those local races and issues we have been following closely and have covered over the past two months starting with the Assembly race in January. We, too, have attended many of the forums, read all the local newspapers and campaign literature. And our reporters have conducted one-on-one interviews with the candidates, something voters can't usually do.

For the Democratic primary for the 1st Assembly District, there are several good candidates. We prefer Patty Berg based on her solid achievements in Humboldt County that often required building coalitions that were blind to party affiliation. If she wins, she will face Green Party candidate Doug Riley Thron and the winner of the Republican primary. The Republican slate is not as strong, undoubtedly because the district is heavily Democratic and the Democrat has a huge advantage in November. Of the Republicans, we prefer Tim Stoen.

Turning to local races, we heartily recommend Garry Eagles for the important post of county schools superintendent; not just because he had the most enthusiastic letters-to-the-editor writers of all the candidates. He too, has a great track record of solid accomplishments. He is a good listener, treats people with respect and knows how to build consensus. And he has the backing of most of the educational community, from teachers and administrators to parents.

We are backing Measures S and T for Eureka voters. Let's fix our schools. And don't forget to vote for the state school bond measure that will fund these repairs in November.

Both our veteran county auditor/controller and assessor are retiring this year. (We would prefer that these department heads be appointed by the Board of Supervisors, but that is not the way the system works.) Both these officials have someone within their office experienced and ready to take over. And there are a pair of challengers from the outside. However, this is not a referendum on either of the outgoing officials; we should look carefully at the four individuals running. For assessor, we are backing Linda Hill who has served ably as assistant assessor for many years. For auditor we are backing the candidate from the outside, John Friedenbach.

Four years ago Sheriff Dennis Lewis did not have a credible challenger and he was re-elected. This year is different and we enthusiastically back Gary Philp. That department needs new, strong leadership and someone who can work with other county leaders to make good decisions.

We are backing Terry Farmer in his re-election bid -- with an asterisk. Yes, he is well qualified and does a good job generally seeing that bad guys are prosecuted. But sometimes he makes a decision that's a clunker, most notably five years ago when he helped Sheriff Lewis develop the creative plan to swab pepper spray on the eyelids of timber protesters to facilitate their arrest.

For the 5th District supervisor, we have our favorites. The good news is that unlike past years, there are a number of good, qualified candidates and they each bring a different set of skills and experiences to the table. With six candidates, no one is likely to win an outright majority next Tuesday. The top two finishers will face each other in November. For coverage of this particular race, see this week's cover story. And please vote on Tuesday.


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