The races are on.
Tuesday marked the beginning of filing for a range of state and county offices.
The field will be set when filing closes March 25. The contests will be narrowed in the August primary and decided in November's general election.
Elections are about choices for voters.
Both the quantity and quality of those choices, however, depend on the number of qualified candidates who filed for elective offices.
The offices to be decided during this election cycle largely fall into three categories: legislative, judicial and administrative.
In Cole County, the post of presiding commissioner is being vacated. Although the presiding commissioner, unlike the two district commissioners, is elected countywide, the three largely are equal members of the county's governing body.
Other positions to be decided will represent districts in the state Legislature.
In Central Missouri, seven incumbent Republicans - one senator and six representatives - have filed for re-election. One GOP representative has filed for a Senate seat and already has drawn a Democratic opponent. Another GOP representative whose district ranges from Mid-Missouri to Franklin County has decided to challenge an incumbent senator from eastern Missouri in a primary battle.
For these policy-making positions, desirable qualities include listening skills, thorough analysis and decisiveness.
In Cole County's judiciary, three incumbents - two circuit judges and one associate - are seeking re-election. One of the circuit judges, the lone Democrat, has attracted a GOP challenger.
On the bench, an ability to weigh conflicting arguments and render a fair and just decision is paramount.
Other Cole County offices to be decided are largely administrative. Although the county clerk's post is being vacated, incumbents have filed for circuit clerk, collector, prosecutor and recorder of deeds. The auditor did not file Tuesday for re-election.
These positions require the background, education and enthusiasm to provide cost-effective operations for the public.
Serving in elective office, admittedly, is not for everyone. The demands can be great, the criticism stinging and the thanks meager.
On the flip side, however, elected office-holders are in a position to make a difference - sometimes for one person, sometimes in the lives of many.
We encourage qualified candidates to step forward and file.