NUMEROUS ISSUES have been debated by the candidates vying for the city-wide seat on the D.C. Council in the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s special election. But the decision for voters comes down to the simple question of who will bring vigor, fresh thinking and ethical standards to a body where the old way of doing things has resulted in scandal and lock-step government.

We have endorsed State Board of Education member Patrick Mara (R) because he offers — by virtue of background, party and views — the best chance for change.

Mr. Mara has run a positive campaign focused on the importance of education reform, fiscal responsibility and integrity in government. Mr. Mara’s ability to stay upbeat, going out of his way recently to pay respect to his opponents and their motivations, is noteworthy, given that he’s been the target of unrelenting and unfair attacks.

The suggestion, for example, that because Mr. Mara is a Republican, his election would be contrary to the interests of gay people doesn’t square with the facts. As he pointed out at Monday’s forum hosted by the Washington City Paper, “I was for marriage equality before President Obama.” Equally baseless are insinuations that Mr. Mara, who represents one of the most diverse areas of the city, Ward 1, on the school board, is using race to appeal to voters. The range of endorsements Mr. Mara has received — including the D.C. chapter of the Sierra Club, the D.C. Chamber of Commerce and the Fraternal Order of Police — speaks to the broad net of his campaign.

Mr. Mara’s willingness to take, and stand up for, a contrary view is one of the things most appealing about him. He doesn’t tailor his answers to pander to his audience. There’s no question that the mainly Democratic council on which Mr. Mara hopes to serve would benefit from a different point of view and from his independent voice. The District stands to be helped by his potential to build relations with Republican members of Congress. In his time on the school board, he has worked hard on behalf of both traditional and charter public schools, putting parents’ interests ahead of any ideology. The city needs more of that.

Mr. Mara works hard, is accessible to all points of view and is committed to the District and improving its government. We urge voters to elect him to the D.C. Council.