Tuesday is Election Day, the day when we will make choices that will affect our lives and the lives of our families, our communities and our nation.
And make no mistake, we face critical and difficult choices.
In Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, we have two candidates for president with vastly different political philosophies, personalities and backgrounds.
Who best to lead us for the next four years? Leadership is what we desperately want as a nation. At home, the economy seems poised on a knife’s edge. We face more racial, political and cultural divisions than in years. Abroad, we see turmoil that spans continents and threatens our security and well-being.
We must also decide on important ballot questions, and elect the next Essex County sheriff.
Given all of that, we have a moral obligation to vote tomorrow. We can’t sit on the sidelines and hope things turn out for the best.
Here are our choices in key races.
PRESIDENT: We believe Hillary Clinton is the best choice to rally a divided nation and deliver to Americans the prosperity, harmony and security we all want and deserve. We acknowledge that Clinton is not perfect. Like Donald Trump, Clinton is flawed and unpopular with the majority of the American public. But this election is too important to sit out or cast a meaningless vote for a third-party candidate. Say what you will about Clinton, but she is tough, pragmatic, resilient and experienced. Trump clearly has no idea what he would do if elected. His erratic and self-destructive behavior since he won the nomination makes it seem he wants the headlines but not the job, with all its critical responsibilities. Hillary Clinton has served as first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state. Donald Trump is a wheeler-dealer who has never served anyone but himself. Where he is impulsive, unstable and unfit to become the leader of the free world, Clinton has the experience and steady hand to guide us through treacherous waters.
MASSACHUSETTS BALLOT QUESTIONS: Question 2 asks voters to lift the cap on the number of charter schools in the state. If approved, the measure would allow Massachusetts to add as many as a dozen charter schools a year, with the focus being on communities with low-performing schools. We strongly urge a yes vote. Massachusetts has some of the best charter schools in the nation. There are more than 30,000 children on a waiting list for a charter school in Massachusetts. It is time they had an opportunity to receive the education their parents wish for them.
Question 3 asks that the state ban the sale of meat and eggs from animals confined in a cruel manner. Voters should approve the measure.
Question 4 would legalize marijuana for residents 21 and older. It is a spectacularly bad idea, both in concept and execution, and we urge a no vote. The state is fighting a pitched battle against opioid addiction. To legalize marijuana in the middle of such a fight is not only hypocritical, it is dangerous.
ESSEX COUNTY SHERIFF: Sheriff Frank Cousins is stepping down after 20 years in office. We recommend Anne Manning-Martin to succeed him. Not only does the Peabody native have academic credentials (bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice), she is also the only candidate who has actually worked in the field of corrections — and she’s done so for 25 years.
One of her priorities as sheriff would be something that has been a disgrace for far too long in Essex County — the lack of facilities for women inmates, who must be shipped off to the state prison in Framingham, even for minor offenses. Some are there, she points out, simply because they can’t make bail, but unlike male inmates, they are incarcerated far from their families and children.
We like Manning-Martin’s suggestion to seek a community setting for the 84-bed detox facility at the jail and use that space to house women inmates. That has the advantage of providing faster relief than could be obtained by building a new facility for women.
All of the candidates want to reduce recidivism; Manning-Martin has actually worked on such projects before, helping with a program in Suffolk County that paired inmates with caseworkers and social service programs.
The fact that Manning-Martin is not a Democrat (she joined the Republican Party last year) should not have a bearing on this election. This is not a partisan job, as Cousins’ long tenure in the position has shown. A Republican, Cousins has worked ably with both Republican and Democratic administrations.
Whether you agree or disagree with our choices, we urge you to vote on Tuesday.