Kline, Pettigrew in 37th; Valdez in 11th District

Since Republican candidates fare poorly in and near Seattle, voters' selections in Democratic primaries in the 11th and 37th legislative districts likely will be decisive.

Candidates today are talking about education, transportation and budgets. With the state facing an enormous deficit, our endorsements are based on how specific and clear candidates are in describing how they would solve problems.

• In the 37th District, a swath of diverse neighborhoods in southeast and Central Seattle, Rainier Valley and parts of Skyway and Renton, state Sen. Adam Kline deserves another term.

In six years in the Senate, the veteran trial attorney has served capably. He emerged early as a quick study and innovator. He has been skeptical and tough about efforts to undo civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism. He led the Senate to defeat legislation that would have expanded police authority to wiretap phones during investigations of terrorist acts.

Kline has a clear grasp of proper funding for education and other important services.

His primary opponent, former state Rep. Dawn Mason, appears to be going through the motions of a political comeback rather than staging a sound appeal for voter support.

• For House Position 2 in the 37th District, Eric Pettigrew, emerges as the top candidate.

Pettigrew has creative ideas, strong management skills and the know-how to get the job done. He works by quiet, effective consensus.

As an executive at SAFECO insurance company, Pettigrew developed the SAFECO Jackson Street Center and Neighborhood Academy — national model for bringing jobs and other resources into a community.

Pettigrew, as president of the Rainier Chamber of Commerce, helped secure $50 million in community-development funding to support businesses and families affected by light-rail construction.

Although Angela Toussaint's dedication to her community is unquestioned, she lacks the managerial and leadership skills required. Cheryl Chow has served numerous public roles, from activist to Seattle City Council member to high school principal.

But it's time for new voices, new leadership.

• In House Position 1 in the 11th District, covering parts of Renton, Tukwila and Seattle's Beacon Hill and industrial area, Roger Valdez has the strongest résumé and best all-around grasp of issues. Valdez was president of Sea Mar Community Health Centers and currently serves as a regional health officer for King County.

A community activist in Georgetown and South Park, Valdez knows what his neighbors need from Olympia.

Valdez is too bullish on an income tax as a solution to the state's economic woes. He needs to focus on what's do-able rather than academic or theoretical. Still, he is the best of five seeking an open seat created by redistricting.

Valdez wisely promises to get transportation work done in Olympia even if Referendum 51, which relies largely on a gas-tax increase, goes down to defeat.

Another candidate, Natalie Reber, an advocate for women's issues and a health-care lobbyist, is well versed on what ails Olympia. She should return for another try.