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Our View: Care to roll up your sleeves and run?

The window to run for public office closes at the end of the business day on Tuesday, when the two-week candidate filing season comes to a close.

Running for local office is a big decision. A proper campaign to introduce or refamiliarize oneself with voters takes both time and fundraising for things like lawn signs.

An election victory means modest or scant compensation in most cases, and comes with loads of responsibility. It requires the office holder to study and be informed on matters, and spend oodles of time in meetings and visiting with constituents.

In some cases, it’s a wholesale upheaval of one’s life. One of our founding forefathers, Thomas Jefferson, reflected on that fact in 1790 when he said, “Public offices were not made for private convenience.”

Despite the burdens shouldered by local elected officials, public office comes with numerous rewards, too. It’s a chance to help shape a community, meet large swaths of one’s fellow citizens, and fill oneself with the satisfaction of doing what’s good and right in our representative democracy. Certainly, it’s an effective way to etch one’s name in the annals of history.

We congratulate the relative few in Carlton County who have so far filed for office. We understand the commitment and appreciate deeply those people who have already made it.

But as of this writing, the fields for elected office locally are looking grim and like we need more folks to think hard over the weekend about coming to their community’s aid.

As of Wednesday, just five business days before the close of filing, mayoral offices in Carlton, Cromwell, Kettle River, Moose Lake, Wrenshall and Wright were all without candidates.

Cloquet’s city council races feature three candidates so far, all running unopposed for separate seats.

Two council members will be elected in Scanlon on Nov. 5, and there’s not a soul yet on the ballot.

The Carlton Soil and Water Conservation District, which does important work helping rural landowners responsibly farm and manage their properties in ways that do things like keep rivers and streams clean, also needs candidates. Only one person has filed for three seats up for election.

The Carlton County board is losing two veteran commissioners in Dick Brenner and Gary Peterson, and those seats — the best paying local offices — have attracted the attention of a few folks.

So far, county board is the exception. Elections devoid of candidates are no elections at all, and would force the reporters at the Pine Knot News to scramble to figure out how empty seats across the county are to be filled, if at all.

We don’t want to have to do that work. We’d far prefer to see our residents, friends and neighbors raise their hands and try their turn at public office. It’s hard work. But it’s the kind of work a person can feel good about doing. So this weekend, if you’re feeling patriotic — or maybe even a little fed up with the status quo — choose to become a thread in the fabric of our democracy. You’ll be glad you did, and we’ll all be grateful.

Separate candidate filings for school boards and township supervisor and clerk seats are July 30 through Aug. 13.

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