Voters in Hennepin County’s Third District are fortunate to have two excellent candidates running in a special election to represent them. Former Commissioner Gail Dorfman stepped down to take another job, opening her spot on the seven-member County Board.

The district includes all of St. Louis Park and some of southwest Minneapolis. The candidates who won a late April primary will vie for the job during a nonpartisan election on Tuesday.

Marion Greene, 43, and Anne Mavity, 50, both DFLers, have strong track records in public service, leadership, community outreach and budget management. Those are the essential skills needed to manage Minnesota’s most populous county, with some 1.2 million residents and a $1.8 billion budget.

Though both are highly qualified, we give a slight edge to Greene, a former state legislator, for her greater breadth of familiarity with the issues. She served one term in the Legislature before redistricting forced her into competition with a fellow DFL legislator from a neighboring district. Yet during that short tenure, she was a chief author of the bill that fully funded all-day kindergarten for Minnesota youngsters.

As a commissioner, she wants to focus on early-childhood development as an important investment in the state’s economic future. She also hopes to expand community engagement with the county and to improve interjurisdictional partnerships — both to better serve residents and to use government dollars more efficiently.

Greene’s professional background in health care finance would help inform County Board decisions about one of the largest parts of its budget — the nearly $790 million spent on health care and human services, including the Hennepin County Medical Center.

One of the most difficult issues facing elected officials representing the district is the proposed Southwest light-rail line that would connect the county’s southern suburbs. Both candidates have been on the right side of the issue. They want to see the project proceed, even though some Minneapolis residents oppose the Metropolitan Council route through the city. A resident of Minneapolis’ Uptown area, Greene is best positioned to make a persuasive case for the regional benefits of expanded transit with those who have most strongly opposed the project.

Mavity works as a consultant on housing and social and youth services, and she serves on the St. Louis Park City Council. She was a policy aide to Dorfman and has worked in several positions on housing, development and community organizing during the past two decades.

Both candidates are passionate and dedicated to smart growth and equity. They envision using county resources to improve opportunities for the disadvantaged. In their areas of expertise — health care and housing — both articulate the important connections to other areas of county service, while also recognizing myriad ways county government touches nearly all residents.

Third District voters would be well served by Mavity, and we hope she will seek another office at some point. However, based on her broader knowledge of the issues and strength as an advocate for Southwest light rail, Greene earns our endorsement in this race.