Let’s face it, politics is huge these days. Just open a newspaper and scan the headlines, or turn on a cable news show.

Donald Trump’s grand entrance to the political arena has a lot to do with America’s soaring interest in politics and outcomes of political situations, especially elections. We predict the 2020 presidential race will be — to borrow a long-dormant phrase — a humdinger.

What are the chances that a future president may be nurturing political dreams at this very moment, right here in the Valley? Probably not has unlikely as you may think.

Trump’s rise to the top of the political pyramid offers proof that just about anyone meeting the U.S. Constitution’s requirements for becoming president has a shot. All you need is charisma, public-speaking skills — and enough money to start your own bank.

But, unlike Trump, most people must first work on their political foundation, the grass roots from which support is grown. That means getting started on a political career track.

Have we got a deal for you, but you have to act quick. Applications are being accepted for the single vacancy on the Solvang City Council only until 5 p.m. tomorrow, after which the four sitting council members will choose who will fill the vacancy.

Don’t laugh. It may seem preposterous that someone who once occupied a seat on our small-town City Council would end up in the Oval Office’s big chair, but stranger things have happened.

OK, so we’re having a bit of fun with this. But the fact is that politicians have to start somewhere — unless you are hyper-wealthy and have your own reality TV show — and local councils, commissions and boards are where the political rubber hits the road.

As a member of the Solvang council you may not be deciding foreign policy or the fate of the free world, but you will be making decisions that affect you and your neighbors, most of whom you see every day or encounter while walking downtown.

The vacancy occurred after council member Ryan Toussaint unseated Mayor Jim Richardson in the November election. The reconstituted council also welcomed a couple of newcomers in Robert Clarke and Chris Djernaes.

After his election victory, Clarke made an interesting comment, which gets directly to the point of today’s editorial: “It’s just really, really, really fascinating to embark on a campaign. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do but never had the guts to do it. I was talked into doing it, and I have met so many amazing people.”

Our guess is that Clarke will find the public-service experience everything it is cracked up to be, and more.

Outgoing Mayor Richardson also offered a helping hand with today’s essay, saying, “Until I got into this job, I had a dim view of politicians. But since I’ve been in this job, I’ve found that politicians are good folks, basically. They’re trying to do a job to serve the public and do as best as they can.”

Amen to that, but it is interesting that not one word has been spoken about how difficult the job of an elected representative can be. There are also those moments at public meetings when elected officials get the stink-eye from members of the audience who disagree with council policy decisions.

It’s all part of the responsibilities that come after an election campaign, and you’ve been declared the winner.

Some politicians bear the weight with equanimity. Others, not so much. But they mostly agree on one thing — it’s a very rewarding job.


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