We’re unsure if today’s wildly charged political climate has anything to do with the surge in people filing for government positions, but we’ll celebrate what we see is an uptick in interest in how our communities run.

It’s like a ritual in small-town newsroom: check in with the city clerk on the final day of election filings to see who is running for open seats on a city council, school board, or other public body with electable positions.

Such ritual took place Tuesday afternoon in the Courier-Post newsroom, as the editor and two reporters hit the phones to gather information. To be truthful, we’re never sure what we’ll get when we make these calls.

It’s not unreasonable, especially in our smallest municipalities, to have no one file to run for office.

But as time ticked on and we made contact with various clerks, it became obvious that April 3 (municipal election day) could be a very busy day in our newsroom. By the time we finished our calls, 17 contested races had developed in our area — which includes the cities of Hannibal, New London, Palmyra, Monroe City, Center, Paris and Perry, along with the schools boards of Hannibal, Ralls County R-II, Palmyra R-I, Paris R-II, Monroe City R-I and Marion County R-II.

Seventeen different races. Rarely have we seen such civic engagement.

While that will certainly create more work for us leading up to the election and on election day, it also makes us smile.

Newspapers are a pillar of democracy — where ordinary citizens take on the tasks of reporting the government’s affairs, watching the taxpayers’ money and ensuring the people’s business is conducting fairly and ethically. Newspapers promote civic engagement.

We’re unsure if today’s wildly charged political climate has anything to do with the surge in people filing for government positions, but we’ll celebrate what we see is an uptick in interest in how our communities run.

The interest in civic activism is encouraging, but we hope the interest in government and school operations is matched by members of the community who do not file for positions of authority. There tends to be a belief that “regular” citizens don’t have any say in government. That’s not true. Take the case of Hannibal Third Ward Councilwoman Melissa Cogdal, a “regular” citizen who showed up to meetings and ended up being an early driver for water treatment changes in Hannibal. She’s now on the city council and is running for her full term.

Civic engagement doesn’t end with the people who file for election — it’s up to “regular” folks to help steer the course of a city or school district. We know resolutions are typically made prior to the new year, but consider this one: make a resolution to attend a public meeting once per quarter.

Doing so will help make the community more informed — and more connected.