With all the enthusiasm here for the general election last month, we think it is unfortunate that there may be several uncontested races in at the City, Township and School Districts for the April election – and appalling that in one race there may not not even enough potential candidates to fill the open positions.

We have observed several campaigns and scores of meetings, so we know that it is tough to be a candidate and sometimes rough to be an elected official. This is an activist community, and most people who speak their minds here are fairly well-informed and fairly certain about their opinions.

Still – how to explain those vacancies – those uncontested races – here in Evanston, of all places?

One way to look at it is that the public forum for civil discourse is in shambles. We wonder if too many have lost sight of the public good because they are so intent on the success of their own proposals.

When vituperativeness replaces civility, activism has ceded its place at the lectern.

So in a sense, the decision to run for office is a two-way winnowing process: “Can I get elected?” is weighed against “Do I really want to serve when it means being attacked and having to listen to the same thing time after time?”

Public service takes thick skin. Being a candidate is tough, and only veterans can tell whether being a candidate is tougher than being an elected official.

But in the end the public servants who leave office with their reputations intact are those who strive to be respected, who show respect to their colleagues and constituents even when they disagree with them, not those who wish to be liked.

We know that there are more qualified, dignified, moral and compassionate people in Evanston than the few who have chosen to run for public office.

Some time remains before the nominating papers must be turned in; the latest date is Jan. 26. We hope many people will spend this vacation considering a run for School Board.

After the great turnout in November, Evanstonians should be invigorated, not apathetic.