After all the fuss of the November election cycle, is next week's local election even on your radar?

It should be.

This is the election in which voters select their candidates for local offices: mayors, city council members, township officials, school board members and more. There is rarely a time when citizens can more directly affect the lives of themselves and their neighbors.

Mayors and city council members make decisions as routine as which streets to repair or resurface and when -- and that immediately impacts a town's residents. They also handle the city budget, deciding how taxpayer money is spent, right where each of us lives and works daily.

School board members help shape education for every student who passes through local schools. They're making decisions that will affect your children or grandchildren for the rest of their lives. And for those among us who don't have children, the moves made by a school board can make or break the quality of a district's educational offerings, attracting -- or repelling -- other good citizens and businesses.

And so we come to the old argument that newspaper editorial boards make nearly every election: vote. Everyone should vote, and cast an informed ballot.

But now we're calling for you to go a step further.

More races in Coles County and the surrounding area are uncontested rather than competitive. The lack of candidates from which to choose limits the change that voters can expect to come from the ballot they cast.

We need more everyday folks to run for office.

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Practically any citizen of age can run for local and county office. Have you considered getting involved?

There may be no better way to serve your fellow citizens and learn the inner workings of local government than to earn a spot on the local city council, school board, township leadership or other governmental body.

Our country needs more qualified, caring people to hold public office. Perhaps you're an accountant and could bring those expertise to a board struggling with a budget affected by Illinois' financial woes. Maybe you've worked in concrete and asphalt since you were in your teens and your township needs a new road commissioner.

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Don't think, "Someone should run against Mr. Smith or Mrs. Jones"; think, "Why don't I run for that seat on the board?"

Most people talk politics often enough. Very few do something to affect real change. Casting an informed ballot is a first step, but running for local office is what our country needs more people to do.

What type of local office might appeal to you as a potential candidate? Take your next step now and check with the city or county clerk to see when that council or board will have its next election.

Like him or not, President Donald Trump certainly has proven that a "non-politician" can run for office and make changes for himself and his fellow Americans.

The question isn't, "Why me?" The real question is, "Why not me?"

-- JG-TC Editorial Board

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