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As the impeachment inquiry proceeds in Congress, and Democrats battle to challenge President Donald Trump at the polls in 2020, national politics dominate the landscape.

Also soon to demand Quad-Citians' attention is the race for the U.S. Senate seat held by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and the Illinois 17th Congressional District seat held by U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Moline. Those contests are important. But they should not be allowed to overshadow state and local races.

Consider, for example, what will be at stake in Illinois in 2020.

Voters will choose state representatives, senators and judges; and county coroners, state's attorneys, circuit clerks, and auditors. In larger counties, including Rock Island County, voters will elect recorders of deeds.

Even easier to overlook, unfortunately, are the contests to elect the county board members whose actions directly impact our lives every day.

In Rock Island County, for example, where a dozen county board seats are up for election, recent board decisions have included voting to demolish the old county courthouse and put Hope Creek Care Center up for sale.

Members' votes directly impact the public safety and the public health; Niabi Zoo; the county's forest preserves; the quality of our roads, cops and courts; economic development; planning and zoning and more. And don't forget, the choices county board members make impact our tax bills.

So we're always surprised and disappointed when incumbents go unchallenged, or seats go empty. Democracy is best served by a free exchange of ideas in competitive elections crowded with people who want to make their communities better. There's also no better place to make an impact, so if you've ever thought about serving, county board is a great place to start.

The requirements are simple: You must be 21 years old, and a U.S. citizen eligible to vote in Illinois, and you must have lived in the district you wish to represent for at least 30 days.

There is, however, a critical caveat: You can't run unless you take out petitions and collect the signatures necessary to get on the ballot. But that's easier than you might think. In many board races, just a couple handfuls of signatures are needed, and candidates have until Dec. 2 to get them.

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Please consider getting started today or urging someone you know to run. Candidate packets are available at your county clerk's office, or you can download one from these websites:

ONE MAYBERRY OUT, ONE IN?

Not every race for Rock Island County Board is shaping up to be low profile. Attention already is on District 20, where former Rock Island 2nd Ward Ald. Virgil Mayberry has taken out petitions to run for the seat from which his daughter, Mia Mayberry, resigned on Monday.

She is among the reform-minded board leaders who modernized and streamlined Rock Island County government. Her leadership will be missed, and we wish her well as she pursues other opportunities.

County Board Chairman Richard Brunk will choose a replacement to serve the remainder of her term that expires in November 2020. Early odds suggest Virgil Mayberry's appointment is a long shot. So if he wants the seat, he'll have to run for it. He's welcome to do so.

If he gets on the ballot, however, he's likely to face renewed questions regarding a Dispatch-Argus-QCOnline.com investigation that revealed that while he was an alderman, he charged personal expenses using his city-issued credit card. If he runs, we look forward to getting some answers to our own questions, including whether he ever intends to reimburse Rock Island the $1,142 the city is seeking for some of those clearly personal expenses. And if not, why not?

 

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