First-time candidates for local elective office are often surprised about how different the actual job can be, compared to what they’d anticipated.

Even in good times of strong local economies, plush budgets and competent government staff, elected officials worthy of their positions are busy listening to constituents, paying attention to the actions of local government, becoming informed on the circumstances that affect the community and striving to help ensure that these positive conditions continue.

It’s far beyond just showing up twice a month to cast a few votes.

In short, it’s work.

That’s in the best of times.

These are not such times.

In three short months, COVID-19 has brought tremendous challenges to the Ketchikan area. The challenges are both immediate and long-term, touching nearly every household. The effects likely will be profound; the stress on citizens is rising. Attention swings to government. What are you going to do about this?

All of a sudden, local elected officials are confronted by a perfect storm of complex issues — many of which are beyond their direct control — compounded by dwindling resources and increasingly anxious friends and neighbors.

Conscientious elected officials who’ve been doing the work are better prepared to navigate the increasingly difficult task of finding viable ways forward under these circumstances. Yet even they can find the task daunting, especially under the intense scrutiny of our 24/7 social media loops.

Recognizing the difficult situations and decisions ahead, we’d like to wish for our Ketchikan elected officials good wisdom and more than a little patience. Hearts for the community at large. Humble spirits. Good humor. An ability to set aside small differences. Willingness to work together.

And we wish all of these things for the community at large. Our elected officials are there as our representatives. As such, they reflect who we are as a community.

They signed up for the job. It likely will prove rather more difficult and more important than they imagined.

We should assist them, in positive ways, as best we can. And a bit of prayer for all wouldn’t hurt.