Texans are accustomed to crazy seasons as far as the weather is concerned, but the season that seems endless – not only for Texas but for the rest of the country – is the political one. In case anyone had any doubt, that season is back.

The filing period for candidates seeking the nominations of their political parties opens Thursday.

The primaries are the first step toward the general election in November 2010, when a host of statewide offices including governor, Congressman and all state representatives will be decided. Many public servants at the county and judicial district levels will be going before voters, as well, and sometimes those more local campaigns draw as much interest as anything else – especially in this “off year” election, halfway between presidential elections.

It’s definitely an extended election cycle, one that’s too long for most citizens and many candidates. But the timing is more designed to give states an early jump on having their say on who the party nominees will be for president in the years when the White House is up for grabs. But that happens every four years, and 2010 is the mid-term for presidential picks. Still, all those those races very important in their particular jurisdictions, even though it seems that it is always the presidential sweepstakes that generates the most interest.

In Texas, a wide variety of offices - from administrative positions in county government to members of the top criminal and civil courts in the state - are decided by popular vote. The March primary will be one of two hurdles potential officeholders must clear before they take office, or return to office in new terms, almost 13 months from now.

But candidates must first decide that are willing to serve in public office, and important decisions that will affect not only the people but also the personal lives of the candidates are now being made. Offering yourself as a candidate for these offices is a unique opportunity within democratic governments, and the willingness of citizens to step forward provides voters with the important choices they need on election day.

Contested races, when managed respectfully, allow issues to be debated in a way that informs citizens of the factors behind the decisions public officials must make.

Next year’s part primary ballots will see be taking shape. Let the races begin.

Brownwood Bulletin