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EDITORIAL BRIEFS COL A season of civic duty

Now that the filing deadline has passed it's time to commend all of those who had the courage to seek elective office.

It's not easy running for election. It can be expensive to mount a campaign and candidates are subjected to no end of public scrutiny and ridicule. Yet, many well-intentioned citizens have chosen to file so they can perform a civic duty.

For example, 11 people have filed for positions on the Rochester School Board, and four have announced their intentions to run for mayor. A few officeholders, including two Olmsted County commissioners, are running unopposed. But most candidates have at least one competitor, and that's a good thing.

When there is competition for offices there is healthy debate on issues and what it takes to do a competent job of representing constituents.

Now it's up to voters to do their part by learning as much as they can about the candidates before deciding which of them will earn their precious ballot support.

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; Most likely to succeed

If you ever need some proof to your relatives or college buddies in, say, Ohio or Alabama that you picked a better state to live, check out the latest statistics from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

According to the state agency, Minnesota's job growth in the second quarter of 2006 accounted for 10 percent of the nation's overall job creation. The state added 32,900 jobs during the first three months of the year, the highest quarterly gain since 1982. In addition, the state's unemployment rate continues to drop, and it's now at its lowest level in the past five years.

These are all indications that we live in a state with a stable, strong and expanding economy. It's not a bad place to be.

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; Gimmicks don't help issue

A news story about an event where no one comes is not so unusual. For reporters, it is relatively commonplace to be the only spectators of what the participants see as a profoundly important happening.

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Such was the case last week when an environmental issue, global warming, was promoted with a stunt, a giant blow-up earth -- with affixed flames (get it?). The environmental advocates were there and a reporter, but no one else.

This should not be taken as a sign of an uncaring public. Global warming is real and most people accept it, even if they don't understand the science. Promoters needn't turn to gimmicks or worry when those tricks don't draw a crowd.

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; Don't give up on bin Laden

The news that President Bush disbanded the military task force charged with tracking down Osama bin Laden was hard to fathom.

Bush has gone from wanting bin Laden "dead or alive" to a seemingly dismissive attitude of whether he is captured.

This has to be all about lowering expectations and downplaying bin Laden. To think the Bush administration no longer makes a priority the capture of the man who masterminded the death of roughly 2,500 Americans is too much to believe.

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