The filing deadline for candidates interested in the positions of Taos mayor, two council seats and municipal judge has passed. Several candidates have signed up to run in the March 6 election.
Now it's up to voters to get involved and pick the candidates best suited for helping Taos to meet its mounting challenges and to thrive.
First, let's be clear. It takes guts and abundant confidence to run for public office in a democracy. As a candidate, you open up your life, your mistakes and your prior decisions for public view and criticism. A candidate's life is an open book, and you have to be ready for a whole heap of verbal manure to be thrown at you when running for office. Once you're elected, it is certain that few decisions you make will please everyone.
We applaud the candidates' willingness to step up and run for the often thankless position and hard work of managing a town. Now that the candidates are in the election ring ready to duke it out, it's time for voters-each one of us-to step up.
It is easy to get discouraged about voting in a democracy. Given the bitter divide in our nation right now and the seeming Río Grande Gorge-sized chasm between the decision-makers in Washington, D.C., and the daily realities of those in a rural towns such as Taos, voters could fall prey to despair and decide their voices just don't matter.
But our democracy-this grand, often messy, beautiful experiment in a political system-can't survive voter despair or apathy. And no place is easier or more important to make government "by the people, for the people" heard than in your hometown political arena. Whether they are running in local school board elections or for your town's mayor or for county commissioner, these candidates are your neighbors. They aren't half a country away. They aren't surrounded by a posse of spinmeisters and secretaries. They are a short drive or a phone call away.
Over the next few weeks, the candidates for elected Taos offices will appear at public forums to answer questions. The first will be Feb. 1 at 5:30 p.m. in a forum at UNM-Taos Bataan Hall, co-hosted by The Taos News and the Taos Chamber of Commerce.
Taos United will hold two more forums a week later on one evening, Feb. 6.
The Taos News will livestream the events and recap what is said in stories. We'll also bring you profiles of the candidates, their backgrounds, their experience and how they say they'll handle tough decisions. Based on our interviews with the candidates, this newspaper will make endorsements for each race.
Spend a little time learning about the candidates. Ask them questions. Don't be swayed by pretty answers. If they tell you they want to do some grand project for Taos, ask how they'll pay for it. If they say they want to bring jobs to town, create affordable housing and provide more opportunities for young people, ask for specifics.
Then, most important, if you aren't registered to vote, go register. If you are registered, get your ballot in early or go to the polling booth on March 6.
Your vote and your voice matter.