Just a few voters will set state and local course

A woman from Rescue votes on Election Day 2008. The few people who vote this year will have a disproportionate impact on California’s future.
A woman from Rescue votes on Election Day 2008. The few people who vote this year will have a disproportionate impact on California’s future. Sacramento Bee file

If the predictions are correct about voter turnout, a paltry number of Californians will end up casting ballots in Tuesday’s state and local elections.

Yes, just a fraction of the state’s 38 million people will be making important and long-lasting decisions for all of us.

That’s an awesome responsibility. To assist voters, The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board spent many hours interviewing candidates, researching their background, studying the text of initiatives and meeting with proponents and opponents before making election recommendations.

Many statewide races are all but decided. The one exception is the race for superintendent of public instruction. Incumbent Tom Torlakson and challenger Marshall Tuck were tied in a Field Poll released last week. We recommend Tuck. Several local races also are very much in play, as are two important ballot measures.

A few are so crucial that we want to give a last-minute plug. The full list of our endorsements can be found at www.sacbee.com/election_endorsements.

Of the six statewide propositions, Proposition 1, a $7.5 billion water bond, and Proposition 2, which would create a rainy-day fund for the state, deserve voter support. The other four are too flawed to chance.

The battle for the District 7 congressional seat must be the most important House race in the nation. At least, that’s what one might conclude from the $17.5 million that has been dumped into it as the Democratic and Republican party duke it out over the fate of Congress. We recommend another term for incumbent Ami Bera. Former Rep. Doug Ose has not made a compelling case for Bera’s removal.

Local races, however, are where the political pedal meets the metal.

Sacramento voters have competitive races for their state legislative representatives, school board and for Measure L, which would fundamentally change the city’s governance structure. For the better, we believe.

Our legislative picks are Roger Dickinson for state Senate District 6 and Steve Cohn for Assembly District 7.

The teachers union is trying to capture a majority on the Sacramento City Unified school board by knocking off incumbents Jeff Cuneo, Jay Hansen and Darrel Woo. We think the incumbents have done well during difficult times and deserve another term. In the fourth open seat, Jessie Ryan, shines through the field of candidates.

There’s a lot at stake Tuesday. The few people who bother to vote have an outsized power to set the state’s course. They should use it wisely.