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Times recommends Tom Torlakson for Assembly

MediaNews editorial
October 21, 2008

STATE SEN. Tom Torlakson has made no secret of his plans. Term limits bar him from seeking re-election to the Senate, but allow him to serve one more two-year term in the state Assembly. It's very convenient for Torlakson, who needs a place to land before pursuing his real goal, running in 2010 for state Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Torlakson faces only token Republican opposition in his race for the Assembly seat representing northern Contra Costa from Antioch to Pinole.

His GOP opponent, Elizabeth Hansen, realizes she has little chance in a district in which Democrats outnumber Republicans by better than 2-1. Moreover, she seems unprepared to serve in the Legislature.

We endorse Torlakson in what will be his last race for a legislative seat. But we want more than a placeholder official out of the deal.

Torlakson's decades of experience include election to the Antioch City Council, 16 years on the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, four years in the Assembly and eight years in the state Senate.

A former high school teacher, he has made education the hallmark of his legislative career. But his efforts to improve education will be for naught if the Legislature and governor fail to deal directly with the structural deficit that threatens the state's financial future.

It's disturbing to see that Torlakson seems primarily focused on his statewide campaign; indeed, he's already raising money for that race. We expect that in about a year he'll be coming to us to endorse him in his bid for state schools chief. Our response will depend in part on how well he does representing Contra Costa in the Assembly. He's a veteran legislator. We expect to hear his voice and see his actions pushing for fiscal reform.

It's time to balance the state's books. That will require leadership from veterans like Torlakson.

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