The world has been distracted by the circus the American election has become, thanks in large part to outrageous comments regularly made by Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

It is an important election not just for Americans but for countries which rely on or have dealings with the super-power.

But it's time we started thinking about elections closer to home.

We need to take an interest in the future of our city and make sure our votes count.

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In October we will have to vote for who we want to represent us on Tauranga City Council, the Western Bay District Council and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council for the next three years. That might seem a long way away but these are important choices.

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Amy Wiggins.
Amy Wiggins.

The decisions made by the mayor and councillors will directly affect all of us who live in the area.

Read more: Slow start to western mayoral race

This year's Tauranga City Council election is especially important because Mayor Stuart Crosby will not be standing for re-election. We need to give careful consideration to who we chose to lead our city. We need someone who knows how a council works and is able to get stuff done but also has the vision and motivation to make a great city.

Already we've reported councillors Kelvin Clout and John Robson, former councillor Murray Guy, and Trustpower's community relations manager Graeme Purches will be running for mayor. Former councillor Larry Baldock, councillors Bev Edlin and Steve Morris, business development expert Max Mason, and regional councillor Doug Owens have also confirmed they are considering standing.

Nominations don't open for a while but we will no doubt see potential candidates popping up around town from now on.

Read more: Baldock ponders mayor's job as part of political comeback

It's important to start taking note of their policies, their stance on issues and the way they conduct themselves now so that when the voting papers arrive in your letterbox you will be able to make an informed decision on who you think will make the best mayor and councillors.

Local body elections traditionally have an embarrassingly low voter turnout and that needs to change.

We need to take an interest in the future of our city and make sure our votes count.