Still time to enter local races

Councilman Andrew Carter’s withdrawal from the San Luis Obispos mayor’s race for personal and financial reasons is understandable, but disappointing nonetheless. Carter is smart, experienced and well qualified, and we like his strong emphasis on the need to control city spending.

We were looking forward to robust debate between him and incumbent Mayor Jan Marx.

His withdrawal from the race creates a definite void and we urge others with relevant experience — such as a background in municipal government or prior political experience — to seriously consider filing. That’s not because we’ve lost confidence in Mayor Marx, but rather, because we believe that citizens are best served when they have achoice of strong candidates in every race, be it for city council, school board or community services district.

As Councilman Carter’s situation demonstrat, holding elected office does involve sacrifice.

The pay has never been great, and since the fiscal crisis began, some elected officials have agreed to take pay freezes or pay cuts. The time commitment is huge, the hours can be irregular and there’s considerable homework. Also, be prepared to have every decision scrutinized and, in some cases, ridiculed or at least second-guessed.

Still interested? Great. Strong leadership is needed now if we’re to deal wisely with the challenges ahead. And those are considerable:

Cities, school districts and other local governments continue to struggle with budgets depleted by falling tax revenues and state takeaways — and it will only get worse if voters don’t pass a statewide sales tax increase in November.

Some local communities are dealing with water shortages; others have roads and other infrastructure badly in need of repair.

Local governments face new state regulations limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

And even at the local level, governments are grappling with how to best help constituents cope with joblessness, homelessness, poverty and hunger.

Not discouraged yet?

Then take note: The last day to file election papers is Aug. 10, though the deadline will be extended to Aug. 15 for races in which an incumbent doesn’t file for re-election.

Complete information on filing for school board and special district elections is on the County Elections website, www.slocounty.ca.gov/clerk/elections.

Information on mayoral and city council elections is available on each city’s website. (Note: Morro Bay will not have an election for mayor or council, since the winners were determined in the primary election.)

We offer our thanks, in advance, to all the candidates who are willing to stand for office. Whatever the outcome on Nov. 6, you’re doing a huge service by giving voters the opportunity to choose.

Editorials are the opinion of The Tribune.