In the last several months, several longtime public servants have announced intentions to step down or retire. The departures certainly come with loss — loss of institutional knowledge, experience and savvy. They also provide our community and its residents with opportunity.

More mature generations often bemoan the lack of interest and civic engagement shown by young people (those darn millennials). But more and more, young professionals and students — as can be seen across the country — have found their voices and used them to contribute to public discourse.

Now, the time has come for those generations to do more than talk.

As longtime legislators, sheriffs, county attorneys, city council members and others step away from politics, the young have a chance to make a bigger impact on the issues they care most about.

Youthful candidates and public servants bring a renewed energy and determination to continue the task of making our communities the best they can be; they cringe at the phrase, “That’s how we’ve always done it.” They also have an ability to reach demographics often ignored and light a spark under some who have felt apathetic. The individuals who gave decades to service deserve our praise and our thanks, even if we did not always agree with their views. They also deserve our promise to continue the work, to roll up our sleeves and take on the tasks at hand.

Filing for the 2018 election begins in just a few weeks. Step up. Make a difference. Lead.