It isn't often that a candidate is endorsed and then urged to take a look at, and possibly adopt, some of his opponents' suggestions, but here goes.
We think longtime incumbent Attorney General William Sorrell, a Democrat, should be re-elected on Nov. 6. He has shown he can professionally manage the department and, despite criticism after the state lost a suit over its authority to refuse to renew the operating license of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, Mr. Sorrell and his office have compiled a solid record in other civil cases, participating vigorously in anti-pollution and tobacco-related national actions, among others.
His Republican opponent Jack McMullen, an attorney, has stressed criminal issues as well as civil cases for the AG's office. And he said he would urge that an appeal by the state of the Yankee decision in federal court be dropped and the money spent elsewhere. That is worth considering.
He also said the state's attorneys across the state handle drug-related and other crimes in somewhat different ways. He recommends that the attorney general call for a meeting of all interested parties in the criminal justice arena to develop common policies for prosecution of cases that all can agree on. Another good idea.
If an agreement on policies cannot be reached, Mr. McMullen said the attorney general could step in and handle the cases because the office has statewide jurisdiction.
Progressive candidate for Attorney General Ed Stanak, meanwhile, has called for more activism from the office on economic justice issues. He has called for prosecuting big banks and mortgage lenders when there are possible violations in the state, such as fraud and lenders being negligent in providing guidance to customers.
While there is only so much the state could do with a much smaller staff than those of large states, Mr. Stanak said Vermont should be out front among the states on these issues, as it has been on social and environmental issues.
For his part, the incumbent has said he has plans to seek legislation to improve transparency in Vermont, reform campaign finance laws and allow more open access to criminal investigation files involving law enforcement officers. This is an area in which Mr. Sorrell has been criticized for lack of forceful action, and we hope he takes up this challenge during the next legislative session.
After his narrow primary victory, Mr. Sorrell should consider that a good reason to consider those ideas for improvements this campaign has forced him to respond to. But regardless, he has more than earned another term during his seven-plus terms in the office.