Sometimes political campaigns produce candidates with whom we might not always agree but who impress us for their intellect and thoughtfulness.
Such is the case in the 15th Assembly District race, in which we endorse Democrat Pamela Price, a civil rights attorney from Oakland. She is among eight candidates vying to replace Nancy Skinner, who must give up her seat because of term limits.
This is a liberal district stretching from Hercules to North Oakland in which Democrats outnumber Republicans by better than 8-1. Two candidates split most endorsements from labor and key Democratic politicians.
But the two, Tony Thurmond, former Richmond city councilman and West Contra Costa school trustee, and Elizabeth Echols, a regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration, echo the same unwavering labor positions that currently dominate the Democratic-controlled state Legislature.
Ditto for Sam Kang, lead attorney for the Berkeley-based Greenlining Institute, which advocates on behalf of communities of color and other disadvantaged groups. Like Thurmond and Echols, Kang has strong public service credentials, but sees the state's problems through the same singular lens that cannot adequately address the fiscal challenges facing state government.
Then there is Price. "We have a responsibility to be fiscally responsible," she said. For example, unlike the other leading candidates, she opposes Gov. Jerry Brown's high-speed rail plan and recognizes it for what it is, "a money pit."
At age 19 while a student at Yale, Price was a plaintiff in a landmark sexual harassment lawsuit against the university. The case established that sexual harassment was a form of sexual discrimination that violates Title IX, which bars schools receiving federal money from discriminating.
For 22 years now, Price, a graduate of UC Berkeley's law school, has been a civil rights attorney, having successfully argued cases as high as the U.S. Supreme Court. With all her accomplishments, she brings humility, a sense of humor and a streak of independence.
During our questioning of the candidates, she stood out as thoughtful, yet unpredictable. Her first political passion is protecting our state courts for, as she said, "we have to have a functioning judicial system" and the current one is broken.
While she defends BART employees' ability to strike, she also supports transparency in negotiations between public agencies and their workers. Having seen the absurd positions opposing parties often bring to mediation, she considers sunshine a way to make people more realistic.
In sum, Price thinks for herself, is beholden to no hardened ideology and recognizes that she would represent her constituents, not special interests. We urge voters to support her.