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Sun Tribune Candidate Endorsements

Sun Tribune endorsements this year are probably more difficult than they have been in election seasons past. These issues are so immediate and pervasive -- starting with a potentially crushing state budget deficit -- that any candidate elected to office will be under constant fire from the electorate no matter which way they vote on solutions.

In the District 11 Senate race and the District 11A House race, we're calling the races toss-ups between Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen and challenger Jim Thoreen, and Rep. Torrey Westrom and challenger Bennett Smith. The fresh ideas and perspectives on problem-solving offered by Thoreen and Smith through their campaigns could be postives equal to the advantages of experience and seniority that Ingebrigtsen and Westrom bring to their jobs.

In the Stevens County Commissioners races, we're endorsing Steve Storck in District 2 and Roger McCannon in District 5. Again, these are not clear-cut decisions.

District 2 would be served well by Jeanne Ennen, who put long hours into her work on the jail task force last year and made sure her opinions on the issue were bolstered by research. And in District 5, Phil Gausman has displayed forward-thinking with his suggestion that sparsely populated counties in this region had better take a serious look at consolidating at a time when funding and available resources are dwindling.

But Storck and McCannon would bring a wealth of ground-level experience to their jobs, Storck most notably with his many successful years running the Stevens County Fair, and McCannon through his involvement with Stevens Forward and his work at the University of Minnesota, Morris.

We're lumping the Morris mayorial race and the Morris City Council together since the mayor is a voting member of the council, and we're suggesting the return of the three incumbents: Mayor Sheldon Giese and council members Jeff Miller and Twig Webster.

Giese has performed his mayoral duties admirably, supporting the city without coming across as a shameless cheerleader. He also has experience as a council member previous to his election as mayor four years ago. His opponent, Sheila Hemming, is an involved advocate who also has specific ideas for how she could help improve the community.

Miller and Webster have been solid and involved in their four years. Both have knowledge and interests that help ensure the wide spectrum of opinions of Morris residents are at least addressed honestly and openly. And it's easy to admire a candidate like Rachael Rendon, who, while lacking experience, said the reason she decided to run is that the community supported her when she moved in and that she feels a desire to give back to that community.

For Morris Area School Board, we support both incumbents running -- Kurt Gartland and Lory Lemke. Both are well-informed about education issues and are willing to hear all viewpoints, consider different approaches and make hard choices.

For the third board seat, district voters have the luxury of choosing from an embarrassment of riches. Laura Carrington has more than 30 years experience as a teacher and served several years on the board before retiring, only to step back onto the board last year on an interim basis for a year while board member Brent Fuhrman served in the military overseas.

Mike Odello is a teacher and father who has a keen understanding of education issues. Marshall Hoffman is involved in many of his young children's activities and a proponent of critical and creative thinking at a time when district's will need both. Troy Goodnough is a well-educated and earnest father who works in education and embraces the district's work on strategic planning. Any of them would be a great additions.

Our strongest endorsement is of the electoral process and your need to learn about the issues, the candidates, and then to get out and vote on Nov. 2.