Before hiring someone, it helps to write out a job description. What, exactly, will this person be expected to do? That's true for voters deciding on who should represent them in the U.S. House of Representatives as much as it is for the managers of any factory, accounting firm or hospital.
The job description for members of Congress is daunting.
Deal with the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression.
Find a way to close out the protracted and horribly mismanaged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in ways that both enhance world security and rebuild our overstretched military.
End a generation of negligence related to the nation's energy needs and the intertwined matter of climate change.
And, while you are at it, remember to speak up for the needs of your own specific district.
It is through the lens of these issues that The Buffalo News editorial board has examined the major party candidates for four Western New York congressional districts and has come to its conclusions as to which of them have the potential to do the best job serving us, and the nation. We urge their election Nov. 4.
26th District: Alice Kryzan
This is the most difficult call of the area's congressional races. It is an open seat, formerly held by retiring Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds, R-Clarence. Neither of the two major party candidates -- Democrat Alice Kryzan of Amherst or Republican Christopher J. Lee of Clarence -- has held elective office at any level. Both are bright and eager to serve.
It is Kryzan, though, whose position on the important issues earns her the chance to go to Congress.
Kryzan is having no more of the Bush administration's nonsense about the solution to every problem being another tax cut for the rich. And she resists the lure of cheap, and environmentally damaging, oil, turning instead to a new, green economy that will not only battle the trends toward climate change but also promise economic benefits to previously troubled areas such as Buffalo and the Great Lakes.
She also sees the Iraq war for what it is, a needless and expensive diversion from the real threat to the United States and world civilization, a threat that continues to hide in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Alice Kryzan should be elected to Congress from the 26th District.
27th District: Brian Higgins
Brian Higgins, a Democrat, has served the Buffalo area tirelessly for many years, first as a member of the New York Assembly and, for the last four years, in the U.S. House. His voice isn't heard that much on national issues, as he concentrates on local matters such as waterfront restoration, the area's transportation needs and the Peace Bridge project.
But Higgins is vitally important on those local needs, and he is on the right side of the big issues. He is tired of the United States being played by all sides in the Iraq conflict and upset by what the conduct of the war on terror has done to American values. He favors reasonable regulation for the shattered financial markets and will not be a vote to continue the ruinous Bush tax cuts.
Higgins merits re-election.
28th District: Louise M. Slaughter
Louise M. Slaughter, a Democrat from Fairport, is another incumbent who has done her job, in her case for 11 terms, and she deserves a twelfth.
As chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee, she is in a good spot to see to the needs of all of Western New York. But, more than that, her position on the important issues facing the nation recommend her to the voters.
Slaughter is a strong voice for facing the threat of climate change through limits on greenhouse emissions, alternative energy sources and efficient autos and power plants. She supports a carefully managed withdrawal from Iraq and a restoration of the constitutional balances that have been upset by the Bush administration's conduct of the war on terror. She seeks an end to the Bush tax code, which she rightly labels as a blatant redistribution of wealth -- from the poor to the rich.
Slaughter, also, merits re-election.
29th District: Eric J. J. Massa
Two years ago, retired Navy officer Eric J.J. Massa came within a whisker of ousting incumbent Rep. John "Randy" Kuhl. This year, he should go over the top.
Massa, a Democrat from Corning, favors a tax code that reserves its breaks for those who need them the most, has detailed ideas for a new regulatory system for the financial industry and regrets deeply the damage that has been done to the American military, American security, the American Constitution and American prestige by the misbegotten war in Iraq.
As the Bush administration limps to its inglorious end, it would make sense for voters of the 29th District to decide that Kuhl, one of the administration's more loyal supporters, should go with it. Eric Massa should be elected.
Endorsements by the editorial board are intended to aid voters in their own evaluations of those seeking office. Whether or not you agree with our recommendations, we urge you to vote and take part in our democratic process.