Editorial: Local elections take center stage

It's a little early to hearing all the buzz just yet, but in a few weeks, local politics will be making plenty of noise.

In recent years, we've published stories calling attention to the growing number of uncontested races in the suburbs - and in some cases, where there even were fewer candidates than seats to fill.

There will be a good deal of that again when it gets down to the so-called lower races, the elections for library and park boards.

But at first glance, it looks like there has been for the most part a resurgence of competition in the suburbs, at least in municipal and school board races.

In the suburbs where we circulate, there are more than 100 contested municipal elections and more than 60 contested school board elections.

That includes more than 30 competitive races for mayor or village president.

And in most cases, these aren't marginal contests. In many races, there are lots of candidates.

In Des Plaines and Mundelein, each town has four candidates running for mayor.

In both Elgin and Naperville, 11 candidates are running for four seats on the city council.

And then there are the school boards. A dozen people are running for four seats in Barrington Unit District 220. And 11 are running for four seats in both Libertyville-Vernon Hills High School District 128 and Indian Prairie Unit District 204. In Huntley Unit District 158, there are another 10 running for four seats.

In many ways, this politics makes sense.

We're coming off one of the most intense presidential elections in U.S. history, with record turnout. That interest in national politics has a worthwhile ripple effect on interest in politics locally.

And if you think about the impact the pandemic has had on our lives, it makes sense that it also would have an impact on our local elections.

In addition to the health threats it has posed, the pandemic has threatened local business and local economies, so it is natural to see that play out in municipal elections.

When it comes to school debates over remote and in-class learning, it makes sense that those would ignite interest in the school boards.

A lot of local news media have pulled back on election coverage in this era of scarcity. We refuse to pull back. We see this coverage as a big part of our obligation to you and to the community, so we aim to provide what information we can to help you make informed choices.

Some early voting in the general election starts on March 10, with mail-in voting starting soon after. The elections take place on April 6.

Get to the digital public forums where they're available. Pick up the phone and call the candidates, as only local elections allow. Research the candidates as well as you can.

We commit to doing our part.

We trust that you will do yours, as a citizen of the community with a stake in how it is run and a duty to your neighbors.

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