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Now is the time to run for office

There are 90,107 government units in the United States.

This includes everything from the 3,031 individual counties, to the 12,880 school districts and the thousands of councils, boards and commissions in between.

What these governments do is important. The decisions they make impact what services are offered at the local, regional and state levels. The people serving on these boards decide the spending priorities impacting everything from playgrounds and textbooks to sewer mains and highways. Government, especially local government, sets the rules that each of us lives by. Whether it is the speed limit on the roads in your community, police staffing and training, or the resources available to educators in area schools, local elected officials establish the priorities and plans how your tax money will pay for it.

According to the Pew Research Center, despite there being more than 90,000 units of government across the country, and the broad impact and scope of their powers, only about 2% of Americans will ever run for federal, state or local elected office.

People like to complain about things. Top on many people’s list of complaints is “the government.” Yet, despite the complaining, only a small number of people will even stand up and try to make a difference.

There are plenty of excuses people make for not running for office. Some will complain that night meetings take away time with their families or that daytime meetings don’t fit in with their work schedules. Others will have excuses about needing to care for their children or their parents, or that they are just too busy to make the time needed.

Others don’t want to risk being forced to make a tough decision that may bring negative repercussions on themselves, their businesses or their families. Still others simply would rather complain and pine away about the “good old days” when they were children and remember their hometown being much more vibrant than it is now, rather than being bothered enough to do something about it.

Now is the time to do something to make a change. It is the time for people to choose to be among the 2% who actually stand up and at least attempt to make a difference.

Nomination papers for school boards, county boards and city councils are currently being circulated. Those interested in running should contact the county clerk’s office, their local school district office or city hall to file the papers and get the signatures needed to get on the ballot. An afternoon of visiting with your neighbors to get their signatures is often all that is needed to get on the ballot and go from being a complainer to a doer.

Now is the time to file your paperwork and to run for office. Now is the time to make a positive change in your community. Now is the time to keep democracy strong by standing up and being willing to serve.