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Consider serving your neighbors

The filing period for area city and school board races began Wednesday, and we urge residents who have a desire to serve their communities to consider seeking an elected position.

We believe that local city council and school board posts are among the most important jobs available today, and our area needs dedicated individuals to step forward and commit to filling the open spots.

Those who serve as city council members and school trustees make decisions that affect us all. Their actions can have a long-lasting impact on development, the economy and our quality of life.

These are important jobs, but the work is not easy, and the pay is low. Those who seek office must be willing to sacrifice a lot of time and energy to work for the good of all. That’s a big commitment, and it takes a special kind of person to answer the call.

What are the qualifications to serve in elected office?

Depending on the position, potential candidates must meet various residency requirements, of course, but beyond that, a willingness to serve and a desire to work hard to make one’s community a better place to live and work would rank right at the top of our list.

Some of the best city and school officials we’ve ever known had no previous political experience when they filed for office, but their dedication and interest in serving their neighbors set them apart. They were honest, hard-working and unselfish — and they cared about their fellow citizens.

That last qualification is a tough one to fulfill because it can be difficult to set aside our own goals, ambitions and agendas to serve our neighbors. Making objective decisions that serve all involved fairly and well is not always an easy task.

Our area is blessed to have many dedicated men and women serving on city councils and school boards — but we need to constantly encourage others to step forward and take their turns. It’s healthy to consider new opinions — fresh faces and ideas help keep local government from becoming stagnant and ineffective.

We sometimes hear complaints about elected officials being unresponsive or uncaring, that they have lost touch with the people who elected them.

The most effective way we know to address that situation is to get more involved in your local government, and one of the best ways to do that is to make a commitment to serve.

There’s nothing like a little competition to change elected officials’ attitudes and improve their response times.

Why not give it a try? Filing for city and school offices ends Feb. 28.