PRETTY SOON, the actual campaigning is going to begin for some of the positions of leadership in communities around Mercer County.

And at first glance, it might not seem important who is in those seats and making the decisions for the future of the county.

But here is why it matters — up close and personal.

In today’s newspaper, you read about a $600,000 grant to conduct soil studies along the Broadway corridor in Sharon and Farrell.

Along that road are already some industries that employ Mercer County residents. The purpose of the grant is to do the prep work to attract a few more.

What is implied, but not explicitly explained, about grants and federal and state support for development is that the leadership in a community matters.

If there is a leader who is focused, organized and has the right attitude about leading his or her community into the future with sound fiscal management and solid planning, there is more likely to be grant money and investment coming our way.

If that leadership is self-focused, in the job for connections or to stir up trouble without the proper training necessary to get anything done, well, that is noted, too.

And guess what happens to money that was earmarked for a community when its leadership is in turmoil? You guessed it, it goes to the next name on the list.

So it matters who sits on a council or who is in a mayor’s office. They hire important people — like city managers and police chiefs.

They direct city planning, and they make decisions about everything from development to paving projects.

And, most importantly, they manage your tax dollars.

There are other important races, too, men and women who want to run county offices that you pay for — and who will be key players in your community’s justice system.

Certainly we are all now keenly aware of how careful we have to be with those choices.

So, over the next few months, there will be candidates seeking your vote for the next election cycle. You might even have heard their names once or twice. They will be making promises and asking for your support.

It is critical that you listen to what they have to say about their plans for your city or county.

We will be asking some in-depth questions of those who are seeking office this year. If you have a couple you want us to ask, please feel free to send them our way.

We want the best people in place in these key roles.

As Mercer County continues to seek more industrial investment and residential interest, we absolutely have to have leadership that is squarely focused on getting to the next step — and not just talking a good game either.

We want state and federal agencies to know that money invested here will be used wisely and by leaders and communities that have vision and determination to grow and to prosper.

The key to making sure that those dollars are well-spent is for you, and us, to vet those who want to be in charge of the pursestrings.

Building a community that will bring new faces and our children and grandchildren back home will take the best we have.

It is up to all of us to make sure they get the jobs.