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Editorial: Consider a run for office

Your town needs a few good men and women to lead the community. If you care about your town and have opinions about how it should be run, consider running for office. Soon.

About 44 percent of Rowan’s 138,600 residents live in an incorporated town or city, and those citizens have elections coming up this fall. As of Tuesday, though, half of the county’s 10 municipalities were short on candidates to fill their town board or mayoral seats —  China Grove, Cleveland, Faith, Rockwell and Spencer.

Filing started July 7 and ends this Friday at noon, so you need to think fast if filling one of those seats interests you. Here are some considerations.

Why run? Reasons could include a chance to do something important with your spare time, give back to the community, perform a public service, learn about your community. People most often run to address an issue or to fight for a certain group. Many want to bring about change.

Should you run? One political website suggests people considering public office ask themselves three questions: Is my family supportive? Am I willing to work hard? And can I ask someone for $1,000 with a straight face? Maybe that should be $100. A small-town race shouldn’t require large donations, but any candidate mounting a serious effort needs financial supporters as well as volunteers to help put up signs, make phone calls and so on.

What are the negatives? Though municipal races are nonpartisan, rancor can surface. Brace for hostility (but try not to generate it). Running for public office is not for people whose feelings are easily hurt, nor for those who are short on time and patience.

What if you lose? Always, always, always consider that possibility. Stay humble and remember, no matter how many people pat you on the back, what they do in the voting booth could be another matter. As one political site puts it, “Keep a winning attitude, but prepare to lose.”

What if you win? In the 1972 movie, “The Candidate,” the character portrayed by Robert Redford campaigns nonstop to upset an incumbent congressman and, after winning, turns to his campaign manager and asks, “What do we do now?” Have an answer for that.

Running for public office has been called painful, “right up there with divorce, childbirth and Adam Sandler movies,” as one blogger put it. But a strong democracy — a strong town or city — depends on engaged citizens and dedicated, competent leaders. You could be a creative force for positive change.

Think about it — and decide before noon on Friday.

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