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How we see the races

The Observer editorial board spent much of the past two months getting to know the candidates who seek your vote today. That research informed our endorsements in all 36 races on the Mecklenburg County ballot.

We endorse because it’s our job and our passion to comment on public affairs, and there’s no more fundamental aspect of public affairs than who will be elected to public office. Besides, you might not have time to research every candidate.

Here’s a brief summary. The full reasoning behind each is available at charlotteobserver.com/opinion.

President

We’ve been underwhelmed by both candidates and found it challenging to recommend either.

In words and some deeds, though, Barack Obama has worked to protect vulnerable Americans. The America he believes in celebrates the common good as well as the individual good. When the economy improves – and it will – the country needs a president with that agenda, with those values. We endorse Barack Obama.

Congress

In the conservative 9th District, we’d normally favor the Republican who better represents a majority of the district’s voters.

We can’t in good conscience recommend Robert Pittenger. We’re concerned that as a congressman, he would work mostly for himself, not his constituents.

Jennifer Roberts offers voters a viable alternative. Her commitment to public service is evident. We believe she would work on behalf of the whole district.

In the 8th District, incumbent Democrat Larry Kissell’s voting gyrations have made him unpredictable, and not in a good way. Republican Richard Hudson says he will focus more on district needs than party dogma and aims to build relationships across party lines. We give the nod to Richard Hudson.

In the 12th District, 10-term incumbent Mel Watt has earned reelection. Republican challenger Jack Brosch has not mounted a persuasive campaign.

Governor

For 14 years, we watched closely as Pat McCrory served as mayor of Charlotte. This is what we saw:

Energy. An unfailing work ethic. Consistent passion representing Charlotte to prospective employers.

It’s that performance over a sustained period of time that makes us confident Pat McCrory is the best choice for governor.

Council of State

We recommend Democrat Linda Coleman in the race for lieutenant governor . The former HR director of the community college system speaks forcefully about how community colleges can play a vital role in preparing students for the work force.

The race for auditor presents an easy choice. Incumbent Democrat Beth Wood is a highly professional accountant who has audited local governments and served for 10 years in the Office of State Auditor before her election in 2008.

Voters have a choice between two strong candidates for commissioner of agriculture. We believe incumbent Republican Steve Troxler’s performance has earned him another four years.

In the race for commissioner of insurance, we recommend incumbent Wayne Goodwin, who shows a keen grasp of the challenges North Carolina faces in meeting the demands of the Affordable Care Act.

Three-term labor commissioner Cherie Berry seems to care more about businesses than the workers she is tasked with protecting. We recommend John Brooks, who was the labor commissioner for 16 years ending in 1993.

Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, a Democrat, has doggedly protected N.C. consumers from unscrupulous businesses – and businesses from trademark fraud – since being elected in 1997. She is doing a superb job and deserves another term.

Two-term Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson has advocated for the needs of N.C. students despite stumbling blocks and is the better choice.

Incumbent Treasurer Janet Cowell, a Democrat, has proven she is up to the job.

N.C. House and Senate

In Senate District 37, incumbent Democrat Dan Clodfelter is one of the more diligent legislators in Raleigh and deserves another term.

In Senate District 38, Democrat Joel Ford is the far better choice. Ford is a former chairman of the Mecklenburg Democratic Party, chairman of the Charlotte Housing Authority and a member of the board of advisers of the Stratford-Richardson YMCA. He has been effective in all those roles.

In conservative Senate District 39, incumbent Republican Bob Rucho is a better fit than his opponent, Democrat Jack Flynn.

In Senate District 40, four-term incumbent Democrat Malcolm Graham faces Republican Earl Lyndon Philip, a doctoral student. Graham has worked well across the aisle while being a strong voice for pre-K funding. He is the better choice.

In House District 88, nine-term incumbent Democrat Martha Alexander has provided long, productive service.

In House District 92, we recommend Republican Charles Jeter. A Huntersville town commissioner for seven years, Jeter is a conservative who understands that not all government spending is bad.

Commissioners, Deeds

We recommend Democrats Pat Cotham and Trevor Fuller and Republican Wayne Powers for at-large county commissioner. Cotham is a party veteran who brings financial and human services expertise. Fuller, an attorney, would bring a moderate, analytic demeanor to the board. And Powers, a radio talk show host, speaks his mind but also shows a willingness to listen.

In District 1, Republican Karen Bentley has been an able representative and deserves a fourth term.

In District 2, Democrat Vilma Leake is divisive and Republican Kevin Spitzmiller has not mounted a credible campaign. We cannot recommend either candidate.

In District 5, Democrat Paula Harvey and Republican Matthew Ridenhour are both strong candidates. We endorse Harvey, who brings a diverse set of skills that match the demands of the board.

In District 6, we recommend Republican incumbent Bill James. While we abhor James’ occasional racist and homophobic bromides, he is a strong advocate of transparency, he holds county officials accountable and his conservative views are a better match for his district.

David Granberry, the incumbent register of deeds, has performed ably.

Appellate courts

We recommend incumbent Paul Newby for reelection. Outside money in the race is worrisome, but Newby has proven to be smart and fair-minded.

Three incumbent Court of Appeals judges – Wanda Bryant, Linda McGee and Cressie Thigpen – have performed admirably and deserve another term.

Mecklenburg district court

There are six contested seats for Mecklenburg District Court.

We recommend Tracy Hanna Hewett over incumbent Charlotte Brown-Williams, Jena Culler over Grant Smithson, Ty Hands over Jeff Thompson, Donnie Hoover over Alyson Traw, Roy Wiggins over Gary Henderson and Kary Church Watson over David Strickland.

Soil and water supervisor

Incumbent Jennifer Krupowicz Frost is the far more qualified candidate.

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This affects comments on all stories.

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The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

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