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Editorial: Picking deeds register, other races & questions

Both candidates for the post of Register of Deeds in Hampshire County, Mary Olberding and George Zimmerman, have solid administrative experience. Olberding, who won a three-way Democratic primary, is a human resources manager and vice-chair of the Belchertown Finance Committee. Zimmerman has served as Northampton’s treasurer for eight years, first winning the seat by election and now holding it by appointment.

Both are capable of administering an office that doesn’t make much news.

Since 23-year register Marianne L. Donohue stepped down in September 2011, the office has been managed by its seven-member staff. Though campaigns might try to make the work seem more complex than it is, we can’t help but think that this remains a public service job that pays a lot — $90,000 a year — for not messing things up.

Olberding is a good and loyal Democrat, and so some have tried to paint her as being on the receiving end of a political plum. But she has too much professional experience and credibility for that to stick. And yet, given the qualifications both candidates bring, voters in Hampshire County may find this the choice that gives them pause.

Olberding is likely to benefit from being on the ticket underneath the names Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren. That might make the case that party registration was going to decide this race all along.

A statewide ballot question, along with allowing the use of presciption medication to end one’s life (Question 2) and legalizing medical marijuana (Question 3) is the “right to repair” measure that would require that carmakers, starting in the 2015 model year, to make diagnostic and repair information available to owners and independent repair facilities.

A bill to that effect was recently signed by the governor. That measure safeguards trade information and we see no downside here to giving the people who own vehicles, and the repair shops they prefer to use, access to needed technical information.

In the 8th District Governor’s Council race, we expect former Springfield Mayor Michael Albano, who’s been dubbed the “comeback kid,” to come out on top of Michael Franco of Holyoke and then to disappear into the functioning of this obscure body of uncertain value. Members of the council earn $26,025 to meet one day a week, mainly to review judicial appointments, a function that could be served by the Legislature.

Both candidates come at this job from unusual backgrounds. Albano’s “comeback,” if it is that, will not be to a position of significant leadership. In a video message, the Democrat refers to his plan to meet with area lawmakers to bring money to western Massachusetts — a promise quite unrelated to this position.

Franco, a Republican, veterans and tea party supporter who serves as a veterans agent, is in his fourth quest for the seat in eight years. He has spoken against judicial activism and wants judges to honor the Constitution.

Franco has served as state chairman of the Fatherhood Coalition. That group calls for a presumption of shared custody in divorce cases. We’re not saying fathers shouldn’t have rights. But judicial appointments and this strain of parental activism don’t mix well.

: A ballot question in many but not all area communities send messages to Washington, D.C., and to lawmakers about federal spending priorities. We think it has merit.

The Budget for All advisory question directs lawmakers to press Congress and the president to preserve Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other social programs, invest in ways that help create jobs, crackdown on business tax loopholes and end the war in Afghanistan and redirect military spending to domestic use.

Whoever is elected president, the state of the nation’s balance sheet will dominate news for years to come. It may be just a gesture, but a vote in support of the Budget for All puts this region on record as seeing the forest and the trees.

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