Today's the last day to file your intent to run for an elected office.
And, from what we've seen so far this week, several folks are willing to take on commissioners in Benton and Franklin counties. And a Yakima democrat is challenging U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings for his seat in Congress. And others are still to come.
We encourage anyone who is interested in filing for office to do so. Participating in the process shows your commitment to our community, and folks willing to serve the public are a special breed.
To run for office, you must file by 4 p.m. in person for local offices or online for state and federal positions.
Many people struggle with the decision to file for office. We often hear of people declaring their intent but then failing to follow through during the filing period.
Circumstances change, health issues arise, people rethink their priorities and decide they don't want to be in public office after all. And we can't blame them. Public service is no picnic.
But political contests are necessary for the health of our communities, and we value those willing to serve. So, for those of you hearty souls still debating whether to file today, we have some words of advice.
After witnessing so many people go through the process, we might have some insights worth sharing.
As much as we appreciate those willing to run and serve, we also encourage those considering it to be mindful of what that really means.
First, it will cost you some money. Filing fees can range up to nearly $1,500 locally, depending on the office. Then there is the expense of running a campaign.
An effective campaign requires advertising and marketing. That means websites and a social-media strategy, as well as the more traditional yard signs, fliers for door-belling and mainstream media advertising.
If people don't know who you are, it's tough to get elected.
Then, there is the time commitment. It takes time to run for office and time to serve if elected. Whether the position is full time or only requires attendance at a few meetings a year, you have to make time for it and make it a priority.
If you are an elected official and your circumstances change to the point you no longer can make the commitment, it's time to step down and let someone else take the job.
Our best tip for those hopefuls running for office is to do the homework. If you're running for a county commissioner's seat, attend the weekly meetings. They are open to the public.
Study the minutes from past meetings and review budgets. You can't expect to hold your own at a debate if you don't know the data.
Talk to people who have held the position and staff members who work with the board or council. You can't be too prepared.
If you're chosen for office, the learning curve is steep. Having some familiarity and background will help ease the transition.
We were heartened to see so many folks throw their hats in the ring for a recent vacancy on the Port of Kennewick's board. Eleven solid candidates stepped forward, giving commissioners a wealth of contenders to choose from before appointing Don Barnes to the position earlier this month.
We'd like to see all the races in the upcoming election have more than one candidate. Competition brings out the best in all candidates, and it gives voters a choice. Running for office certainly is a way to gain valuable experience whether you win the election or not.
But please make your decision to run with thought and care. No one benefits from an elected official who doesn't take the job seriously.