ummer is a time when life sort of taps on the brakes. The pace slows down, you can catch your breath and take an assessment of where you’ve been and where you’re going.

But summer’s over. Fall is here, school has started, there are games to watch and functions to attend. Halloween is around the corner, Thanksgiving on its heels, and then the joy and rush of Christmas and the dawn of the New Year.

Blink, and it’s Groundhog Day.

Here’s some advice: Don’t blink, because there’s a lot we’ll be needing to pay attention to, namely the 2022 election. It will be upon us before we know it.

The filing period for candidates begins Dec. 6 and ends Dec. 17. Absentee ballots will be mailed out starting Jan. 17, and the voter registration deadline for the 2022 primary is Feb. 11. Early voting starts Feb. 17 and ends March 5. The statewide primary is March 8.

Voters will choose one U.S. Senator, the state’s delegation to the U.S. House, all legislative seats and a host of local offices, including races for commission and sheriff here in Jackson County.

Incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, first elected in 2004, is calling it a career. Nearly 20 hopefuls have expressed interest in filling the seat.

In N.C.-11, freshman Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn will likely face a challenge from at least one – possibly more – GOP hopefuls in his party’s primary. A host of Democrats are lining up to vie for the seat as well.

Two N.C. Supreme Court seats, currently held by Sam Ervin and Robin Hudson, will be on the ballot. Irvin has announced plans to run; Hudson, should she run and win, would face mandatory retirement age one year into her next eight-year term.

Four of the state’s 15 Court of Appeals seats will be on the ballot next year as well.

That’s what we more or less know is certain right now. However, as 18 months of pandemic has taught us, things can change, and change rapidly. That’s especially true in this state.

Minnesota may be the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but North Carolina is the land of 10,000 election-related lawsuits. Expect a lot of dust and confusion surrounding voting for former felons, voter ID, congressional and state House and Senate lines and more.

The point is, 2022 is an important election. It will be here in a rush.

The time to start paying attention is now.