Seeking power and fame? Filing week’s almost here

The News TribuneMay 10, 2013 

OK, that headline is a little deceptive. The offices that will be on the Aug. 6 primary and Nov. 6 general election ballots are, for the most part, the kind of local positions where people make the nuts-and-bolts decisions for cities, schools and other bodies.

If you’ve ever complained about local officials and said something like, “If it were up to me . . .,” this is the time to back up those words with action.

Filing week begins Monday (online or at the Pierce County auditor’s office kiosk) for the Aug. 6 primary and Nov. 5 general election. A lot of seats are up for grabs on local city councils; school boards; and such junior taxing districts as fire, water and parks.

Almost all of the offices in this off-year election are nonpartisan. The exception locally is the unexpired term for state Senate in the 26th Legislative District, where Republican state Rep. Jan Angel plans to file against Democrat Nathan Schlicher. He was appointed to fill the seat held by Derek Kilmer after he was elected to Congress.

Several incumbents have already announced that they’re running to hold on to their seats. But potential challengers shouldn’t let that scare them off.

Democracy works best when officeholders face qualified opponents who challenge them to defend their record. Incumbents should have to make the case to voters why they deserve another term. And challengers get to argue why they could bring fresh ideas to the civic marketplace.

Last year, there was a good excuse for not running: The primary had been moved up two weeks to the first Tuesday in August, and filing week was moved from the first week in June to mid-May. That earlier date crept up on a lot of people; hopefully there’s more awareness now.

The best candidates for local office are those who run out of a desire to serve their community and make it a better place. For candidates who might have higher aspirations, serving in grass-roots positions is great training in how to work collaboratively, to compromise in order to get things done and to deal with sometimes fractious members of the public.

These jobs can be thankless, time-consuming and sometimes maddening. But our system doesn’t work unless good people step up to the task.

Of course, there’s always the power and fame . . .

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