Just when you thought the election season is over, the local election season starts up, at least for us here in Illinois.

Coming next April, municipalities, school, park and library districts will hold elections for their governing boards. In addition to the local board elections, some governmental bodies will be conducting referendums on a number of items.

Individuals interested in running for public office in Illinois can now circulate their nominating petitions for the particular office they are interested in. So the process starts.

But in reality it should start way before petitions are being circulated.

The greater majority of people run for elected office because they care. Others run because they think the current board or administration are doing everything wrong and they think they can make a change. Then there are few who run because they have a grudge to settle with someone in that agency. For whatever reason people run for public office, they have the right to do so provided they meet the qualifications for that elected office.

Being in government for nearly 38 years, I have seen all of the reasons people run for office. From what I have witnessed over the years, the people who run because they truly care about the well-being of the agency are the most successful and create the most overall good for the agency and the community that they serve.

The best tip I can offer to anyone wanting to run for elected office: Attend the agency’s board and committee meetings.

Another suggestion: Call the agency administrator to make an appointment to learn about the agency, its ongoing projects as well as future plans.

Board and committee meetings are open to the public. In my opinion, there is no better place to learn than at a board or committee meeting of the agency you would like to serve. Attending agency meetings well in advance of Election Day beats running for an elected position on baseless local gossip and scuttlebutt.

The upcoming 2013 local election for the Lan-Oak Park District will be another important day because the electorate will have a chance to vote on a referendum question to raise the limiting tax rate by 10 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation. This additional revenue will be used for capital improvements throughout the district.

There is never a good time to ask for more tax dollars, but as managers of the taxpayer’s property, additional dollars are needed.

Imagine you as a homeowner maintaining your home and property on the same revenue you were earning many years ago. This is what the Park District has been doing.

I encourage everyone in Lansing to be on the lookout for more information on this referendum question.

So another election season is here. Exercise your right to participate and to vote for the good of your community.

John Wilson is director of the Lan-Oak Park District. The opinions are the writer's.

Politics/History Editor Doug Ross, an award-winning writer, has been covering Northwest Indiana for more than 35 years, including more than a quarter of a century at The Times.