Fiona Ma for State Assembly

Editorial: Vote for Fiona Ma

Assemblywoman Fiona Ma faces a legitimate challenge in the form of asset manager Alfonso Faustino Jr.

Ma, whose district includes parts of northern San Mateo County, is seeking a third term in the Assembly, where she is speaker pro tempore. The former San Francisco supervisor is a public-health advocate who is particularly proud of a 2007 bill banning chemicals known as phthalates from baby products, a stance that was later adopted by the federal government.

Ma is a hard worker, though if she wins a third term, we encourage her to focus more of her energy on job creation.

Faustino, though a newcomer to politics, makes for an impressive first-time candidate. The Republican is running a vigorous grass-roots campaign, and we are intrigued by some of his ideas on education, from reforming the tenure process for teachers to increasing vocational training.

We disagree with Faustino, however, on his approach to solving the state's budget mess. He is against tax increases of any kind, for example, and this inflexibility on the issue of taxation is one of the reasons why the state has failed so utterly in recent years to right its fiscal ship.

In addition, Faustino's grasp of certain statewide issues is not as strong as we would like. His position on high-speed rail -- he opposes it -- is sketchy, and in a recent meeting at the Times, he did not take a stance on Proposition 23, an effort to cripple California's landmark effort to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

Ma has experience and a leadership position within the Democratic Party in her favor, and we prefer her more pragmatic approach to balancing the budget.

We recommend a vote for Fiona Ma.