Guess what year it is!

Yes, folks, it’s here once again – that invigorating year that seems to last forever, that is bursting with enough drama and paranoia to keep everyone on the edge of their seats, and the year that is guaranteed to pit neighbor against neighbor at some point. Yes, 2019 is a local election year.

As opposed to the election two years ago, 2019 will in most cases feature the “minority” races – that is, a minority of each government body will be up for re-election. In boroughs with a nine-member council, only four seats will be up for grabs, etc. Of course, there will always be exceptions to the rule thanks to resignations, past or present. For instance, normally only four seats on the Northgate School Board would be open this year. However, a two-year seat filled in the 2017 election has now come to term, and a fifth board member will have to be elected to a full four-year term.

There will be officials who choose not to run again – Bellevue Council president Tom Fodi already has announced publicly that he will not seek re-election to a second term – but we can expect to see plenty of incumbents running to hold onto their seats.

If the local electorate has any sense, the critical race this year will be for Northgate School Board. The district is in dire financial straits, and continuous tax increases are on the horizon for Avalon and Bellevue property owners. The school board has repeatedly rejected any attempts by constituents to get them looking a whole lot farther out of the box. Unfortunately, among those whose terms end this year are some of the more intelligent and knowledgeable board members, specifically Dan O’Keefe, Shannon Smithey and Gary Paladin. However, all of them – with the exception of Paladin, who was absent -- voted for an unbudgeted capital expenditure of $1.1 million for the football field. For many voters, that could be a deal breaker.

So, if you are finally tired of sitting around hoping someone else will fix things for you, this is the time to think seriously about running for local public office. Nomination petitions will begin circulating in February. This is the time to bone up on the issues, think about the solutions, and throw your proverbial hat in the ring.