By now, you might have pulled your Nov. 5 election ballot out of your mail box, if you can find it among the campaign mailers for city council, school board and port commission candidates. That’s not to mention the mailers feuding over the cost of car tabs and a new affirmative-action law.

Confusing? Yes. A daunting task to get up to speed on all those issues? For sure. But The Seattle Times editorial board is here to help.

 Take a look a the board’s full editorial endorsements on a number of local races as well as recommendations on three statewide ballot measures. Since May, we have interviewed 90 candidates for races ranging from the Seattle City Council to the Renton mayor to the Bellevue School Board.

In these odd-year elections, voters elect their leaders for city councils, school boards, port, hospital and fire commissions and other local jurisdictions. Arguably, these elected officials more directly affect your pocketbook — through the schools your children attend, property-tax decisions and public-safety decisions — than state and federal elections.

Some people think a news-media company should not publish endorsements but rather stick to neutral news coverage of the races. Our newsroom, which operates separately from Opinion, does cover the races without picking sides. But Opinion pages, here and elsewhere, have a long tradition of weighing in with recommendations for voters.

And that’s what our endorsements are: recommendations. We encourage readers, of course, to do their own homework as well, attending forums, asking questions, looking at candidate positions on campaign websites. For our part, we are candid about our reasoning.

Recently, we asked readers for their questions about our endorsements. Here are some answers.

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Q: What metrics do you use to measure a candidate?

Regular readers of Seattle Times Opinion know our values because we often publish our mission statement — advocating for children, schools, safe communities, a dynamic economy, and ethical leadership in public and private sectors. In addition to these filters, we try to gauge whether candidates are committed to public service first or to using their seat to advance an ideology. Especially for city-council and school-board races, we look for a strong civic résumé. Have they been volunteering in the schools already? Have they served on the city planning commission or parks board? That kind of commitment is an indicator that they are committed to the local jurisdiction. When candidates talk about the need for expanded services, have they thought through how to pay for it and what the impact will be on residents?

Q: Is it possible to have a candidate for Bothell City Council considered for your publication?

Unfortunately, not this year. We have limited resources and were not able to interview candidates for all local races. As it was, we decided to endorse for city council and school board in the county’s two largest cities, Seattle and Bellevue, and for Metropolitan King County Council and Port of Seattle commission. We also decided to weigh in on Renton and Redmond city races because both had open mayoral races.

Q: The editorial board consistently endorses the more conservative candidates and initiatives. Why isn’t there more diversity of opinion?

Q: The candidates you have endorsed, especially in recent years, seem to be mostly Democrats. Aren’t issues more important then party affiliation?

Obviously, from these two questions, readers have different perspectives on the editorial board’s political leanings. I can attest we are not ideologically reliable. Typically, we look for the best candidate with a public servant’s heart and a shrewd fiscal eye. Yes, issues are more important than party affiliation. In fact, for local races, candidates espousing partisan ideas are usually crossed off our list. As for when we endorse in partisan races, in recent years, it’s true we have endorsed more Democrats for state legislative races. Blame the state Republican Party for not fielding better candidates in races in King and Snohomish counties, and candidates need to be qualified. We are open to public servants of either party and prefer moderates who try to nudge policy to the middle over extremists.

Agree or disagree with our recommendations, please be sure to vote by Nov. 5.