Needed, desperately: good, strong candidates. We're talking community leaders; men and women of intellect and passion and common sense; and men and women willing to stick their necks out there, willing to take their turns as public servants, and willing to share their skills and their knowledge.

The good of the community - our future - depends on our best representatives' willingness to step up and to serve.

In Duluth right now, candidates are needed to run for mayor; for two at-large seats on the City Council; to represent districts in far-eastern Duluth, central Duluth, and far-western Duluth on the City Council; for an at-large seat on the Duluth School Board; and to represent districts in eastern Duluth on the School Board. In all, ballots this year in Duluth include a mayoral, five City Council, and three School Board races. None of the races are partisan - or are supposed to be.

Candidate filings opened this week. Incumbents and challengers have until Tuesday, June 18 to put in their names. The primary election is Aug. 13 with early voting starting this month already, on June 28. The general election is Nov. 5. Early voting for the general election begins Sept. 20.

Good, quality candidates are needed every election. Is the incumbent still the best choice? Voters can be left to decide, but first voters need options. The all-important opportunity to pick is denied them when quality people remain in the background.

Any time there's an open public post, strong candidates are needed to step forward. No candidate or incumbent should run unopposed. Challengers with credentials and skills force the necessary airings of philosophies and strategies to successfully address our community's needs. Without legitimate competition, voters are denied the information they deserve before casting their ballots

If you have the credentials and willingness to give back, your community needs you - now as much as ever. The clock started ticking this week to get involved.