Democracy takes participation, and Ketchikan voters should be encouraged by the number of candidates who will be participating in the upcoming municipal elections.

Twenty-three candidates total are running for the open seats available on the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly, Ketchikan School Board and Ketchikan City Council.

Every race is competitive — especially for the three 3-year seats open on the City Council. A total of eight candidates will on the ballot for those seats.

Ketchikan voters also should appreciate the variety of candidates, who range from political newcomers to individuals with long records of public service.

We’re grateful for individuals who’ve chosen to be candidates for local public office. The jobs that you’re pursuing are vitally important to the community, perhaps even more now as Ketchikan navigates the uncharted waters of the novel coronavirus pandemic. We look forward to hearing the candidates’ thoughts on the issues of today and their goals for the future.

As noted above, a functioning democracy takes participation. The candidates have stepped forward. It’s time for voters to step up.

Local voters — and we’re encouraging everyone who’s eligible to participate to actually cast a ballot — have choices to make. There’s ample time between now and election day for voters to learn about the candidates. An educated choice is usually the best choice.

The 2020 local election season is promising. There are good candidates in numbers that provide real choices for voters. Let the campaigns begin.