The Seattle Times editorial board endorses Richard Mitchell to replace Jane Hague on the Metropolitan King County Council.

RICHARD Mitchell is the most accomplished and promising challenger to Jane Hague on the Metropolitan King County Council, and earns The Seattle Times’ endorsement. In our interviews with the four candidates for this seat, he stood out for his quick mind and grasp of detail.

Four years ago, Hague was stopped for drunken driving, was ill-mannered to police and blew an alcohol reading of 0.135, more than two-thirds above the legal limit. She was running for re-election but kept her arrest quiet during the filing period so that she had no credible opponent.

Now she does.

Mitchell began his career as an urban planner but now is an attorney with the Summit Law Group. For several years he was chief counsel to Gov. Chris Gregoire. He has been president of the Loren Miller Bar Association, which represents African-American lawyers, and now is first vice president of the King County Bar Association. He is a regent of Seattle University.

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He immigrated from the United Kingdom at age 12. He is 45, married and lives on Mercer Island. The County Council is nonpartisan, but when asked Mitchell said he is a Democrat because of that party’s identification with immigrants, civil rights and environmental justice. He describes his politics as “fiscally conservative and socially progressive.”

He says the county’s employee benefits, which have been on the rich side, “should be aligned with similarly large-sized businesses in the county,” public and private.

That is The Times’ position also. Public employees cannot be in a parallel universe, insulated from the economic realities about them.

Our concern about Mitchell is that he might be too quick to raise taxes. That caveat noted, he is one of the most attractive new faces on the local scene, and we endorse him for the County Council.