The Seattle Times editorial board changes its endorsement in a Metropolitan King County Council race and supports Jane Hague over Richard Mitchell in District 6. In the District 8 county race, The Times endorses Joe McDermott.

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THE Seattle Times endorses Jane Hague for re-election to the Metropolitan King County Council.

This is a change in our endorsement. In the primary, we endorsed Richard Mitchell for the District 6 seat, mainly because of past mistakes by Hague, including an arrest for drunken driving four years earlier and her boorish behavior then. Hague was running for re-election at the time and had no credible opponent.

This year she had a couple of good opponents, and we endorsed Mitchell, who we said “stood out for his quick mind and grasp of detail.”

He did, and does. But there is more to a candidate. Temperament cuts both ways. Shortly after endorsing Mitchell, we noticed his campaign ads against Hague and another primary challenger, John Creighton. They were nasty to the point of being offensive. Mitchell approved them.

Members of the County Council are not mainly elected for their personalities. Their job is to represent voters by making policy decisions on the people’s behalf. To a voter, the question of Hague versus Mitchell should mainly depend on who best would represent their constituents’ interests more of the time.

Hague is a moderate Republican, with support from 10 Eastside mayors and two prominent elected Democratic state lawmakers, who say she is a responsive and effective champion for their communities.

Sometimes her moderation feels like wandering over the centerline. On the question of whether to raise car tabs by $20, she said she would vote no unless it was put to the people, then voted yes after negotiating an agreement that included eight free bus tickets with each renewal.

Mitchell, in contrast, stays in the left lane. He’s for the tax. Our problem with him is that he is going to be for the next tax, and the one after that. He believes the county’s financial problem is mainly a lack of revenue.

Mitchell would make a fine representative in a Seattle district that votes 80 percent Democrat. But he is running in an Eastside district that is more “purple” than hard “blue.” It is moderate, pragmatic and centrist. That is Hague. She fits the district.

As for her arrest and behavior around it, we take back nothing we said about it. She says she has learned her lesson and we accept that.

This time, we support Jane Hague.

Election cycle after election cycle, County Council members often get a pass. They rarely face high-quality challengers and therefore miss the important tuneup that comes from a vigorous campaign.

In District 8, which includes West Seattle, Burien, Vashon and Maury islands, short-term incumbent Joe McDermott, no relation to U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, has been in the job less than a year. He did not attract the strongest challenger. Instead he drew Diana Toledo, an earnest and intense individual who has worked in county animal control.

McDermott is endorsed with the expectation that he will become more like fellow West Seattleite Executive Dow Constantine, who is serious about reforming county government and making it run on a leaner fiscal diet.

McDermott has the potential to become a solid member who reaches beyond traditional partisan politics and establishes himself as an independent thinker.

Toledo cares about good public policy but as a whistle-blower she tends to see scandal in too many locations. She seems like she would be harping at colleagues more than working with them. There is certainly a place for employees who expose wrongdoing, but the practice has to be focused.

McDermott has experience as a lawmaker in Olympia and helped complete purchase of a gravel mine on Maury Island to turn it into a shoreline park. Stick with McDermott.