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Our View: Votes are cast; it’s time to roll up sleeves

The Signal Editorial Board

Posted: February 20, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: February 20, 2011 1:30 a.m.
 

Tuesday’s special election to fill the state Senate’s 17th District seat formerly held by Republican George Runner has come and gone, and it’s  no surprise to anyone in this largely Republican pocket of California that his wife, Sharon, is headed to Sacramento to take his place.

Congratulations to Democrat Darren Parker for running a well-fought race. Now that the voters have spoken, we urge Republicans and Democrats alike to move forward.

To the new Sen. Runner, we urge her to put partisan politics aside and reach across the aisle in confronting the many serious problems facing this state.

Runner collected a commanding majority — more than 65 percent of the vote — while Parker garnered less than 35 percent. Clearly, the voters of the 17th District chose experience over the change promised by Parker, who had never run for statewide elected office.

Experience is perhaps the greatest asset Sharon Runner brings to the table as the newest state senator. She is a former state Assemblywoman who served from 2002 until 2008, when she termed out. Runner won’t have to “learn the ropes,” like the typical first-term senator.

As a former member of the state Assembly, she already is intimately familiar with the inner workings of state government. She will not have to forge relationships with her new colleagues in the Senate; those relationships already exist. Many of those she will be serving with also served with her in the Assembly.

Runner will need every bit of that experience as she assumes her seat. California today is a state in trouble. Consider:

n  The state is burdened with a budget deficit of $25.4 billion. In addition, the state’s pension obligation to its
employees is more than $500 billion.

n The state’s unemployment rate stands at 12 percent, which exceeds the national average. Here in the Santa Clarita Valley, despite recent improvement, the unemployment rate still hovers around 8 percent.

As Runner prepares to tackle these tough issues, we urge her to use her prior experience for the greater good of Californians.

Instead of settling in comfortably with the members of her party and pursuing narrow partisan goals, we urge her to keep all options open and on the table.

Instead of being just a loyal party member, we urge her to reach across the aisle and work with Democrats to find workable, bipartisan solutions to this state’s serious problems.

Having served previously in the Legislature, Runner knows, perhaps better than most, that consensus — not narrow, hardheaded partisanship and gridlock — is what’s needed in Sacramento right now.

Both Runner and Parker deserve a lot of credit for being willing to step forward and serve the people of the 17th District. And they deserve credit for running a clean race that was free from name-calling and focused on issues.

It’s not easy running for, or serving in, public office. Campaigning takes time and money. And if you win, you’re subject to the intense scrutiny of voters during your time in office.

Both Runner and Parker have demonstrated a true love for the people of the Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys. Their commitment to public service is commendable, and they deserve our gratitude and our respect.

To Parker, we say both “Thanks” and “Carry on.” Ever gracious, even in defeat, Parker has pledged to continue working for the people of the Antelope Valley.

It’s something he’s done for the past 30 years, and his community can only benefit from his continued commitment to serve others.

As Sharon Runner prepares to take her seat, we say: “Welcome back, Senator Runner.” We look forward to seeing her use her experience not only to benefit state Republicans, but all the people of the 17th District, Republcan and Democrat alike.

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