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Our View: Quality candidates needed to step up in Northland during filing period that ends May 31

From the editorial: "If you have the credentials and the willingness to give back, your community needs you. ... Not for any special interest or political party and not for fame or fortune. Rather, running, especially for all-important local offices, is a pledge to do what you can for the place you call home."

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Dave Whamond / Cagle Cartoons
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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 the Northland right now, candidates are needed to run for open legislative, congressional, and county board seats, as well as for statewide offices and St. Louis County posts. The local offices, especially, have the biggest impacts on our lives, where we live, and whether we thrive, but so often are overlooked and dismissed in the shadows of gubernatorial and other higher-profile races.

A two-week candidate filing period opened this week and closes May 31. That’s 14 days for candidates to, as the cliche goes, toss their hats in the ring and to make the decision to serve their communities, whether they win or just prompt conversations and debate over important matters as candidates.

The primary election is Aug. 9, with early voting for the primary from June 24 through Aug. 8. The general election is Nov. 8. Early voting for the general election begins on Sept. 23.

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Three St. Louis County Board seats are on the ballot to represent central Duluth, an area north of Duluth to about Virginia, and the northern about two-thirds of the county. Also in St. Louis County, sheriff, attorney, and auditor are all up for election this year.

Statewide, there’s a governor’s race and races for secretary of state, auditor, and attorney general. Legislative seats representing Duluth and areas across the Northland are all on our ballots this summer and fall.

Candidates for county board and county offices file with the county clerk; there’s a $50 filing fee. Legislative and statewide office-holder hopefuls file with the secretary of state or county clerk; their filing fees are $100 for legislative races and $300 for statewide posts. Candidates for Northeastern Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District must file with the secretary of state and pay a $300 filing fee. All candidates can collect signatures on a petition instead of paying a filing fee.

The deadline for all of them to file, again, is May 31. The clock is ticking.

That means that quality candidates are needed now in all of these races, just as they are 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 instead of stepping forward and sharing their skills, smarts, and leadership.

No candidate or incumbent should run unopposed, either. Challengers with qualifying credentials, 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 — 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 all-important local offices, is a pledge to do what you can for the place you call home. It's a way to ensure our shared future.

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A REMINDER ABOUT ELECTION LETTERS
With the candidate-filing period now open, it’s election season in Minnesota.

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And time for a semi-regular reminder that letters to the editor for or against candidates — those vote-for-him or don't-support-her notes that historically have inundated and overrun newspaper opinion pages in the run-ups to votes — are treated as paid content in the News Tribune.

They used to be published like other letters, which are expressions of personal views on matters of current public debate. Newspapers publish letters to the editor as part of a commitment to the community to provide a civil and productive forum for viewpoints, with the belief that from many ideas the best solutions can emerge to our many shared problems.

But letters for and against candidates rarely fit that definition. Rather, they often are an attempt by political candidates and their campaigns or supporters to take advantage of a newspaper's sense of public responsibility to monopolize a limited public space and to reinforce a candidate's name recognition while squeezing out competition.

Recognizing that, in 2018, the News Tribune joined other Forum Communications newspapers — and most major papers around the country — by treating such "letters" for what they really are: paid political content. Campaigns and supporters can still have them published, but for a nominal fee: $25 for the first seven column inches (about 125 words) and $10 for each inch thereafter. Submissions are required to include the writer's name, address, and phone number, though only the writer's name and city are published.

In the News Tribune, paid political letters are published on Saturdays on the page preceding the WeekendOpinion pages. The deadline for the letters is noon Wednesdays. Paid political letters can be submitted through the duluthnewstribune.com website. At the upper left of the home page, click on “Sections” and then on "Milestones," which is found under "Community." Then click on "Place a Milestone" to follow the on-screen instructions. You'll have to create a free account if you don't already have one.

Please note, this applies just to political endorsements and non-endorsements. Traditional letters to the editor on matters of current public debate — letters that truly contribute to the critical community conversations we need to be having — continue to be considered for publication the same way as always. Those letters to the editor are limited to 300 words in the News Tribune. The best way to submit such a letter is by email, to letters@duluthnews.com.

Letters in response to News Tribune endorsement editorials, other editorials, or other published content also aren't treated as paid content, if submitted to the letters email address.

Healthy communities engage in healthy and robust exchanges of ideas and viewpoints. The News Tribune, like most newspapers, remains committed to hosting, via its Opinion pages, exchanges that are robust and productive. And we strive always to ensure that they remain accurate, civil, and inclusive of a diversity of viewpoints.

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Those gluts of letters ahead of elections that plug this candidate or disparage that incumbent may not fit with that, but they still have a place in print.

Related Topics: OUR VIEWELECTION 2022
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From the editorial: "All your body parts depend on it."