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Now is the time to run for local office

Potholes don’t care about your politics. They don’t care about party affiliations or what signs you had in your front yard during the last state or national election.

Potholes are formed when water seeps into cracks in the pavement. With freezing and thawing of that water and the resulting expansion and contraction of the soil, the cracks widen. If left unchecked the once smooth road will decay and become nothing more than loose rubble.

Keeping potholes from expanding is what local government is ultimately all about. This is true on the most pragmatic and literal level. Roads and basic infrastructure maintenance and repair are, more often than not, the dominant areas driving municipal decision making and finances.

Potholes are why many people first get involved in local government. People get fed up with potholes in the roads in their neighborhoods or on their way to work and want something done now, rather than being put on some future maintenance wish list and forgotten.

When it comes to fixing potholes, there are several options. The quick and dirty way is to just dump some cold mix asphalt in the hole and tamp it down a few times with a shovel. It will hold until the next time a plow truck comes by. Other repairs range from putting the asphalt equivalent of a bandage, to ripping out and rebuilding the road from the base up. Not all solutions are practical in every situation, factors such as cost, inconvenience to residents or business owners, and the impact on travel in the community all play roles in determining which option to use.

Local leaders must look at the options, weigh their merits and come to a consensus, prioritizing needs based on resources available.

As it goes with potholes, so it goes with the dozens of other issues local elected leaders are called on to deal with each year. These issues are the cracks which form over time in every community. Just how constant maintenance is needed to prevent the cracks in the road from destroying what took a significant investment in time and resources to build, so too is maintenance needed in all the areas of the community. Just as there is more than one way to fill a pothole, there are countless ways to repair the cracks that form in communities. It takes a healthy discussion and an exchange of multiple viewpoints to address issues that arise. Each person brings something to the table. Sometimes their view wins out, other times it doesn’t. Most often at the local level a middle ground is reached providing a workable solution. When everyone is sharing in shoveling the gravel, it matters little who threw the first shovelful or the last.

There is no room for gotcha-last politics when it comes to filling potholes, either physical or proverbial. In the end, people want smooth roads and strong communities.

The challenge is for people to be willing to stand up and help fill those potholes. To be the ones that make a difference in their communities and help combat those external forces that would tear it apart.

Now is the time for people to take out nomination papers to run for local boards at the municipal, school and county level. Now is the time for people who care about their community to stand up and be part of the solution and not let their local politics be hijacked by those with ulterior motives. Now is the time, to get those potholes filled.