Voters, on this Fourth of July, your communities need you more than ever.

While this holiday celebrates the founding of our nation, multiple levels of government — federal, state and local — weave together systems intended to serve their mutual constituencies, from ensuring the national defense to funding schools to running fire departments. But that intention is only fully realized when people make their concerns known to their elected leaders, and the most decisive way to do that is to vote.

The November 2020 election broke election turnout records as Americans battled for the presidency and made their wishes known, state by state. Regardless of what the former president and certain GOP activists in Arizona falsely claim, the people elected Joe Biden president of the United States. Fair, square and clearly.

In these odd-year elections, however, voter turnout often falls even though the ballot questions affect people’s lives more directly than who serves in Congress or the White House. The Seattle Times editorial board has been interviewing candidates in several local races, including city councils and school boards in Bellevue and Seattle as well as those running for Metropolitan King County Council and the Port of Seattle. We evaluate the candidates’ qualifications, experience, civic résumés and ask a number of questions about their plans. Then we make recommendations about who best meets our criteria. Today, we make our recommendation for King County executive.

Later this week, we will weigh in on the Seattle mayor and council positions. Today, we also are publishing Seattle mayoral candidates’ answers to our questions about how they would tackle the city’s interminable homelessness crisis and whether they support the Compassion Seattle initiative.

While we can’t interview candidates for all of the many local cities and school boards, here are some questions voters may want to consider as they evaluate the candidates vying for their vote.

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Is your city council doing enough to help Main Street businesses and other industry recover from this economically devastating pandemic? Are your city leaders doing enough to help the homeless while ensuring the streets and parks are safe for your children? Or are they just shrugging and stuck, or are they shunting off those responsibilities to other jurisdictions?

Did your school board ensure your children received the tools and instruction they needed to advance — or did they delay in-person instruction because of disagreements between adults, administrators and union leaders?

Are your county elected officials responding to the acute public-health needs of this pandemic, ensuring that everyone eligible, especially those in less affluent communities, have access to the vaccines?

Are they responding with generosity and compassion, while also remaining mindful that this may not be the best time to require constituents, reeling from business and job losses, to pay more in taxes?

Are elected officials leading our communities to recover in ways that may make us all better off? Are they innovating and leading, or hunkering down and falling back on outdated solutions?

These are difficult times to be sure. And, arguably, leadership has never been more important.

Pay attention to the candidates and what they say. Follow The Seattle Times’ coverage of key races. Read the voters’ pamphlet carefully, attend forums by Zoom, if you can. Check out their websites and send them questions.

And vote. Primary ballots will be mailed within two weeks and need to be returned by Aug. 3. Your community needs you.