Desperately needed: good, strong candidates with excellent skills, willing to give back to their community. We're talking true leaders, men and women of intellect and passion and common sense, men and women brave enough to stick their necks out there, to take their turns as public servants, to share their skills and knowledge and pride in where they live.

The good of the community, and our shared future, depends on our best representatives stepping up in the name of service.

In Duluth right now, candidates are needed to run for open seats on both the City Council and School Board, those local offices that have the biggest impacts on our lives, where we live, and whether we thrive.

A two-week candidate filing period opens today. The primary election is Aug. 10, with early voting for the primary starting this month already, on June 25. The general election is Nov. 2. Early voting for the general election begins on Sept. 17.

Two at-large City Council seats, representing all of Duluth, are on the ballot. Six candidates have already announced their intent to run for those seats, including an incumbent.

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There are also City Council races in District 2, which covers eastern and northern Duluth, and in District 4, which includes Piedmont Heights, Duluth Heights, Lincoln Park, and parts of West Duluth. In District 2, incumbent Joel Sipress has said he won’t seek another term. Two others, so far, have declared their desire to replace him. In District 4, no candidates have emerged yet to challenge the incumbent.

City Council candidates can file with the City Clerk in Room 318 of City Hall and must either pay a $20 filing fee or present a petition. They have until June 15.

Additionally, there are four Duluth School Board races this year: two are at-large, representing the entire district; one is to represent eastern Duluth’s District 1 and the other to represent western Duluth’s District 4. No one has yet to announce any plans to run for or return to the School Board.

School Board candidates file with the clerk of the school board in room 215 of the Central Administration Building. Their filing fee is $2 or a petition in lieu of the fee.

Quality candidates are needed in these local races, just as they are in 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 when quality people remain on the sidelines or in the background.

No candidate or incumbent should run unopposed, either. Challengers with credentials and skill sets, even if they fall short, force airings during campaigns of the philosophies and strategies that can successfully address our community's most-pressing needs. Without legitimate competition, voters are denied the information they deserve before casting their ballots.

If you have the credentials and the willingness to give back, your community needs you — now as much as ever. The clock starts ticking today to put your name in and get involved. Not for any special interest or political party and not for fame or fortune. Rather, running, especially for local office, is a pledge to do what you can for the place you call home. It’s a way to ensure our shared future.