Deciding which candidates to support for local, state and federal offices usually gets easier as Election Day draws near.

This, however, is not a typical election cycle.

The June 3 primary narrowed a head-spinning number of choices for Congress, the state Senate, the state Assembly and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors races down to just two hopefuls per contest.

What makes choosing among fewer candidates more difficult is that we’ve gotten to know the candidates a little bit better, and in many of our local races both candidates have made very convincing cases that we would do well to put them in public office.

The good news is that tougher choices likely mean better outcomes for voters — a choice of the better of two goods rather than the lesser of two evils, which is so often the case. And that’s important because elections aren’t really about the candidates: they’re about you and your aspirations for our community’s future.

Love our choices, hate our choices — what matters is that you exercise the right to choose. Because if you don’t, someone else will. For democracy’s sake, we can’t urge you enough to mail in your ballot or turn out to the polls on Election Day.
Next week: State and local ballot measure endorsements

CONGRESS — 33rd District
State Sen. Ted Lieu comes to the race with a record of serving the Westside well in Sacramento, and we believe he would continue to do so in Washington. Lieu would also carry outgoing Rep. Henry Waxman’s torch on several important issues — especially climate change, which is perhaps the most important issue of this century. He has pledged to us to bring back a version of Waxman’s American Clean Energy and Security Act proposal, potentially game-changing legislation that Waxman leaves unfinished in retirement.
Vote for Ted Lieu.

STATE SENATE – 26th District
The most difficult decision this election cycle was choosing between Santa Monica-Malibu school board member Ben Allen and social justice attorney Sandra Fluke. Both candidates are exciting and full of potential — they’re young, capable, approachable and generally on target when it comes to the issues. Essentially, this race is a win for voters no matter the outcome. We endorsed Fluke in the primary, and in the end we’re sticking with that endorsement due to her track record of legislative advocacy that has included bills on early childhood education, student loan debt relief and workers’ rights. Tested in the crucible of Rush Limbaugh’s venom while standing up to congressional bullies over women’s reproductive health care, Fluke may be a first-time office seeker but she’s been in the big game for a while.
Vote for Sandra Fluke.

STATE ASSEMBLY – 62nd District
Autumn Burke is a well-rounded candidate who knows the issues and the district well. She grew up the daughter of L.A. political royalty — former L.A. County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke and former Coastal Commission member William Burke — but she has established her own strong political identity this year, even as a first-time candidate for public office. As the owner of a business development consulting firm, part of that identity is pledging to support local small businesses, which could use an advocate in Sacramento.
Vote for Autumn Burke.

Spoiler alert: We’re sticking with our June primary endorsement of former state legislator Sheila Kuehl. But this is another one of those choices that didn’t get any easier this time around.

Before the primary, we weren’t that impressed with Bobby Shriver — mostly because we couldn’t even get him to take our calls. The former Santa Monica mayor still isn’t the easiest person to reach, but this time for good reason: He’s been busy. Since June, Shriver has been much more active on the campaign trail, and in doing so made himself more accessible to voters.

In last week’s package of candidate interviews, Shriver gave some pretty good answers about addressing the needs of the district, particularly when it comes to housing affordability, delivery of services and transportation infrastructure.

But Sheila Kuehl is also hip to these issues, and she has dealt with them before. Representing the Westside for 14 years in Sacramento, Kuehl shepherded 177 bills from inception to law, including many signed by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In setting health, economic, public safety and social services delivery policies for 10 million people, the county supervisors oversee a territory more populous than many states. In managing a $26-billion county budget, they must navigate complex funding mechanisms (and unfunded mandates) that often come down from Sacramento — territory Kuehl knows well.

Kuehl’s track experience and comprehensive understanding of a supervisor’s role, in addition to her special focus on foster care and juvenile justice reform, makes her the right woman for the job.
Vote for Sheila Kuehl.