The open at-large seat on the New Bedford City Council is an incredible opportunity. As the field swells, the candidates need to work smart and work fast.

The open seat is a great opportunity and the COVID-19 virus is a great hindrance. As Charles Dickens wrote, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." Let's hope vacancies in political offices are more frequent than pandemics in the future.

It is going to be difficult to campaign for local office while this pandemic persists. The candidates in Dartmouth, Fairhaven, and New Bedford are going to need to run campaigns that take into account the social contact limitations we are living with during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Candidates, both incumbents and challengers, will need to concentrate on experienced opinion molders and stakeholders if they are going to be successful at the ballot box.

The major taxpayers are small business owners. Those local business owners are also some of the most philanthropic donors to local community organizations. No candidate can or should be elected unless they have deep and long-ranging support from the local industry.

The men and women who serve and protect the public are also going to decide who gets elected locally. The public safety budgets are enormous. You won't question it if you are having a heart attack or some other medical life-ending issue.

Everybody loves firefighters and EMTs; most of us love the police. They talk to people all day long. The folks who lead the unions for firefighters, police, and EMTs are charismatic and even better at politics than the candidates who need their support. Candidates for public office need to line up and pitch their ideas to the public safety unions.

The people who run local civic organizations and youth activity groups are important parts of the local community. Candidates need to know the needs of these wonderful groups and how best to serve the public through them at budget time.

Election season is here and the candidates need to talk to the community.

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at chris.mccarthy@townsquaremedia.com and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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