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All Santa Clarita Valley residents qualified to vote Nov. 8 have a choice for county supervisor between Kathryn Barger, longtime chief of staff for Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, and Darrell Park, an Altadena entrepreneur with federal budget experience.

Barger began emerging from Antonovich’s big shadow over a year ago as the supervisor who was elected in 1980 prepared to be termed out of office. Endorsing Barger for his seat was part of his preparation.

During her campaign we learned Barger has been Antonovich’s behind-the-scenes answer to thorny regional problems like the dispute last year between the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District and Stevenson Ranch residents over a proposed deep well injection site on the West Side of the valley.

She was effective; she knew local issues; she has demonstrated strong leadership skills and, while she’s a conservative, she’s less conservative than her boss.

The other name on the ballot to govern a district of some 2 million people in a county that manages a budget of $28.7 billion is Darrell Park, who served in the White House Office of Management and Budget under two presidents.

He holds a graduate degree in public policy from Georgetown University and is an advocate for clean energy, having published a book called “Better Than We Found It: Simple Solutions to Some of the World’s Toughest Problems.”

Park offers a sweeping and what he calls progressive vision of change to everything from foster care to trash disposal. During a Signal Editorial Board meeting he shrugged off a request for details, saying when he puts them up on his website his campaign staff takes them down.

One wonders how well his lofty and, frankly, seemingly unfocused goals will fare when they collide with the immovable bulwark of county bureaucracy.

Park is also quick to push partisanship to the forefront, although he made a great show of bipartisanship during a Signal Multimedia and College of the Canyons summertime debate (which can be found on The Signal’s YouTube channel).

The race is nonpartisan; you won’t find a big R or D next to either candidate’s name on the ballot. We believe there’s a reason government founders establish nonpartisan offices: when determining whether to build roads, preserve storm water or approve new developments, partisanship has no place at the table.

But Park is running hard on partisanship, branding his campaign with the logo “Darrell Park Democrat for Supervisor.”

One should consider the balance on the Board of Supervisors if such a partisan Democrat should be elected to the traditionally conservative Fifth District seat.

Just five elected officials govern Los Angeles County’s 10 million people. Considering the disparity among the voters who put them in office, they’ve struck a remarkable balance for years, aligning conservative to liberal as nonpartisan district interests mesh.

Antonovich has shown himself a master of that dance while consistently representing conservative interests. Tilting the board’s balance too far either direction might result in the kind of partisan gridlock seen in Washington.

Barger has learned from her experienced boss and we believe she is ready to exercise the diplomacy necessary to maintain the Board of Supervisors’ functionality.

Vote Kathryn Barger for Board of Supervisors.

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