Passionate, articulate visionaries needed to serve the city of Colorado Springs. Help oversee:

a two-billion-dollar ($2,000,000,000) annual operation

more than 10,000 employees

a large, full-service hospital system

a huge, full-service electric, gas, water and sewage utility

thousands of acres of parks, playgrounds, gardens and trails

two cemeteries(!)

two golf courses(!!)

plus a toll road up America's Mountain.

Pay: About $5 an hour, if you typically work a 25-hour week. Or $3 an hour, if you put in 40 hours a week. No overtime paid.

Perks: A cell phone and/or BlackBerry service. Plus, never be lonely again! At least not for the next four years. Most weeks you'll be invited to more than a dozen events. Plus you'll get lots of phone calls and e-mails often more than 400 a month from your constituents, seeking to bend your ear.

Qualifications: Must be a U.S. citizen, at least twenty-five (25) years of age, and a resident of Colorado Springs for at least one year.

Term: Initial term, four years. But you can re-apply in April 2013 for another four years. Despite the low pay, job satisfaction is high, as evidenced by the fact that most folks holding this job do re-apply. And some just cannot stay away. For instance, attorney Randy Purvis was first chosen in April 1987, won again in 1991 and again in 1995. After sitting out due to term limits, Purvis garnered an at-large seat in 2003 and again in 2007.

To apply: While applications are accepted until early March 2009, to have a chance of being selected, it is essential to announce your decision by November 2008.

Hiring decision: There is a very large hiring committee. For April 2009, four district committees comprising about 102,000 citizens each will decide who is the best candidate to represent them. (See map.)

Hiring decision made: Tuesday, April 7, 2009.

As reported in last week's Independent, currently there is just one likely candidate for each of the four district City Council seats on the ballot for the municipal election next April.

Three are incumbents: Scott Hente from District 1, Darryl Glenn from District 2 and Jerry Heimlicher from District 3. Hente hasn't made a decision but likely would be unopposed if he does run. Margaret Radford is term-limited in District 4, but only former (appointed in 2006, voted out in 2007) Councilman Bernie Herpin has expressed interest in replacing her.

(The rest of the City Council includes the mayor and four at-large seats, voted on by the entire city, with those spots up again in 2011.)

This is not the old Soviet Union. Competition is healthy. It is essential for our community, and for our democracy, that there is a vigorous debate about where our city is headed.

But for such a debate to occur, we need good candidates.

Don't demur. Step up to the plate.