To two good men

The Reno News & Review's endorsements (so far)

U. S. President: Barack Obama

U. S. Senate: Shelley Berkley

Representative in Congress, District 2: Samuel Koepnick

Nevada Senate District 13: Debbie Smith

Nevada Senate District 15: Sheila Leslie

State Assembly, District 24: David Bobzien

State Assembly, District 25: Pat Hickey

State Assembly, District 26: Rodney Petzak

State Assembly, District 27: Teresa Benitez-Thompson

State Assembly, District 30: Mike Sprinkle

State Assembly, District 31: Skip Daly

State Assembly, District 32: Ira Hansen

State Assembly, District 40: Rich Dunn

Washoe County Commission, District 1: Andrew Diss

Washoe County Commission, District 4: Vaughn Hartung

District Court Judge, Department 9: Cal Dunlap and Scott N. Freeman

State Board of Education, District 2: Donna Clontz

Justice of the Peace Reno/Verdi, Department 1: Patricia Lynch

Justice of the Peace, Reno/Verdi Department 6: Pierre Hascheff

University of Nevada Regent, District 9: Michon Maupin Mackedon

School Trustee, District E: Howard Rosenberg

School Trustee, District E: Diane Nicolet

Reno City Council, Ward 1: Jenny Brekhus

Reno City Council, Ward 3: Oscar Delgado

Reno City Council, Ward 5: Kitty K. Jung

Reno City Council, At-Large: Hillary Schieve

Nevada State Question No. 1: Vote Yes

Washoe County Question WC-1: Skip this one

Washoe County Question WC-2: Skip this one

Reno Question RNO-1: Vote No

The timing for endorsements in political races can be crucial. In some instances, like the cases for the Reno City Council or in the race for School Board, district E, the Reno News & Review’s choices and reasons for making those choices were clear almost since the day the candidates announced their campaigns.

Sometimes endorsements are held back because even we, members of the omniscient media, can’t decide if one or the other candidates is going to do something so incredible that any responsible endorsement in the race would require a nod to that action. For example, we have an endorsement written and in the can for the U.S. Senate race between Dean Heller and Shelley Berkeley, but we’ve chosen not to publish it until any possible news in the race has hit the street.

And then there’s this race for Department 9 district judge between Scott Freeman and Cal Dunlap. There’s no pressing need to endorse in the race. The candidates seem to be doing a fine job getting the word out about their campaigns. Both these attorneys are known in the community, and we don’t expect either to wind up suddenly embroiled in a sheep sex scandal or the like. Both men are eminently qualified: Dunlap has been a respected and competent prosecutor and district attorney. Freeman has been a respected and competent defender and judge in various capacities. (Freemen currently serves on the District 9 bench, having been appointed to the seat by Gov. Brian Sandoval because of the unfortunate passing of Judge Robert Perry.)

Both men are likeable, seem nice to children, and have managed to avoid pedestrians in crosswalks.

In fact, the only things that seem to distinguish them is that Dunlap is an old-school law-and-order guy—the type that sometimes assumes police are infallible—and that Freeman was a defense attorney, a guy who often took on cases where the accused was unlikely to get any justice without him—even though it sometimes washed him in a sort of associative guilt. But that’s how justice works, or is supposed to work: You’ve got two smart men or women representing the state and the accused.

Dunlap is 70, and Freeman is 57, if either of those numbers matter to anyone. To be honest, in most circumstances we’d be inclined to give the nod to Freeman just because most judge seats are occupied by prosecutors in this community. But Dunlap’s past public service seems to make irrelevant and disrespectful that kind of kneejerk endorsement.

So, here’s the deal. We’re not going to endorse in the Department 9 District Judge race between Scott Freeman and Cal Dunlap. This is the kind of race we love to see: two respectful, intelligent, not acrimonious, qualified, community-oriented people running for an office out of a desire to perform public service and not because they can’t make more money in the private sector.

Thanks to both these men for making the decision to run, and congratulations to Washoe County and the state of Nevada because no matter where this race ends up, our citizens are going to be the winners.