The General Election next Tuesday offers a number of interesting issues and candidates. Among the foremost of these issues is Referendum 51.

Just as north Pacific County citizens sometimes have a difficult time grasping how population growth on the Peninsula makes its citizens more interested in zoning, all citizens of rural Washington have a hard time understanding the challenges presented by traffic congestion in the Puget Sound region.

But unlike the divide between the two halves of our county, the divide between Puget Sound and the rest of the state has real consequences for everyone. King, Pierce and Snohomish counties are the economic drivers of the entire state: If their economy crashes due to clogged freeways, we all go down with it.

R-51 will undoubtedly result in more transportation work in those counties than elsewhere, but it nevertheless is vital we all vote for it. Our county gets far more back in transportation taxes than we ever put in. And, more importantly, we are heavily reliant on a healthy Puget Sound economy.

This election will also be notable for installing many new faces in top county offices in South Bend. We commend your attention to the candidate surveys printed on Page A13 of today's paper for insights into how candidates for contested county-wide offices think. Incumbent County Commissioner Pat Hamilton is the best choice in her race.

Congressman Brian Baird has been a great friend of this county since well before his election. He certainly is among the brightest and best in D.C., and receives our enthusiastic endorsement for re-election.

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