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Opinion

Editorial: Election season is finally here. Here are the races in which the L.A. Times plans to endorse

A county registrar staffer in Norwalk shows off the touch screen on one of Los Angeles County’s interactive ballot-marking machines.
A county registrar staffer in Norwalk shows off the touch screen on one of Los Angeles County’s interactive ballot-marking machines.
(Mariel Garza / Los Angeles Times)

The California primary is underway, with vote-by-mail ballots going out to Los Angeles County voters Monday (to apply, see information at the conclusion of this editorial). Voters who want to cast their ballots in person will be able to do so as early as Feb. 22, this time at new L.A. “vote centers” rather than traditional neighborhood polling places. So even though it’s called the March 3 election and voters can choose to wait until then to cast their ballots, much of the voting will be done throughout February.

We endorse selectively, which means we pick and choose the races in which we make recommendations.

Endorsements are made by the Los Angeles Times editorial board, which is a team of opinion writers and editors. The board does its work separately from news reporters and editors, who have no input into the endorsement process.

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We make our decisions after a careful process of reporting (including interviewing the candidates and ballot measure proponents), discussion and deliberation.

The Times will endorse in the election for Los Angeles County district attorney. The county is by far the nation’s largest local prosecutorial jurisdiction, and the person who leads the D.A.'s office here will have an enormous role in setting the direction that criminal justice policy takes nationwide.

Those issues also loom large in elections for three seats on the county Board of Supervisors — one being vacated by Mark Ridley-Thomas, who has reached his term limit, and two held by incumbents Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger, both of whom face challengers. The Times will endorse in each of those races, which are a referendum of sorts on the county’s efforts to deal with homelessness and social services.

We’ll also weigh in on two county ballot measures, one to boost the Fire Department’s budget with a parcel tax on property in unincorporated county areas (Measure FD) and one to grant the civilian commission that oversees the sheriff authority to subpoena Sheriff’s Department records, as well as require changes in planning for jails and alternatives to incarceration (Measure R). And we’ll make a recommendation on Proposition 13 — not the famous property tax measure from 1978, but a statewide $15-billion school construction bond.

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The Times will also endorse in races for seven Los Angeles City Council seats, four Los Angeles Unified School district positions and the race to fill the seat in Congress vacated by former Rep. Katie Hill (D-Agua Dulce).

We’d like to recommend candidates in the Los Angeles Community College District election as well, but we can’t. The district exercised its odd, unusual and ill-considered authority to simply do away with its primary and allow voters to weigh in only once, in November. We’ll be saying more about this strange situation later this election season.

Perhaps the ballot’s most baffling decisions for voters are in the races for Superior Court judge. Little information circulates about the candidates or their qualifications. We’ll do our best to sort through the fog and guide voters to what we believe to be the most responsible choices.

As in all Times endorsements, we endeavor to provide our reasoning so voters can put us to the test and accept or reject our thinking and not just our decisions.

Follow the Los Angeles Times editorial page in print and online to keep up with our endorsements. Yes, voters can cast their ballots early, but some of the most informative candidate forums and interviews — and The Times endorsements — roll out through February.

Apply for a vote-by-mail ballot electronically at https://lavote.net/Apps/VoteByMail.

Updates:
10:35 AM, Mar. 03, 2020: This piece was updated to remove a reference to the presidential race. After much discussion, The Times decided not to endorse in California’s presidential primary.

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