The new year 2018 arrives Monday, providing for a long weekend of celebration, football and hope

There is some optimism as well as a bit of dread as west central Minnesota and the nation enters 2018.

There are parts of our region and Minnesota where the economic recovery has not yet experienced fully. But the economy overall across the country and the state has continued posting strong numbers. Most economic predictions forecast a likely strong 2018.

Next year will be an active year politically, with the midterm elections of 2018 occurring. Minnesota will be a center of the year's election focus. Sen. Amy Klobuchar's seat will be up for re-election. And soon-to-be Sen. Tina Smith's seat will have a special election to fulfill the remainder of Sen. Al Franken's term. And Minnesota will have an open governor's seat as Gov. Mark Dayton is not up for re-election.

And depending on a likely Supreme Court ruling on whether Sen. Michelle Fischbach can hold her Senate District 13 seat and fill in as lt. governor at the same time, her state Senate seat could face a special election as well.

The other aspect of 2018 will be the impact of President Trump's administration on the midterms. Earlier this month, the White House chief of staff received a two-page memo outlining the Republican Party's collapse with female voters. The president's poor approval rating among women nationally was not helped by his support of accused child molester and candidate Roy Moore in the recent Alabama senatorial special election.

However, much of what 2018 will be will depend upon what we as individuals make of it.

We hope to see the positive trend of working together as a community in Willmar, across political and other lines. And when we disagree with each other, be able to be aware of the position of others and respect their opinions.

Even though it has been more than 150 years since the Civil War ended, America is facing a new wave of emboldening white nationalists, Klansmen and neo-Nazis across the country.

However, respecting others does not mean being tolerant of bigoted or racist opinions by individuals or public officials that disparage whole groups based upon opposition to their race, ethnicity or religious backgrounds.

There is no room for racial, ethnic or religious hatred or intolerance in Willmar and elsewhere in this state.

We hope to see 2018 be a better year for women in our town and the nation. The disclosures of 2017 of prominent people, primarily men, abusing or harassing others, primarily women, crossed the line of civil behavior. No individual - woman or man - should have to experience discomfort or abuse just to keep a job or gain an assignment.

Finally, in 2018, we can choose to complain about the politicians and others, while pointing out all the problems at home and around the world. Often, we do not offer solutions ideas to the problems, waiting for others to solve those problems.

Hopefully, in 2018 we all will become more engaged in our community and our nation.

Let us all resolve when we see something wrong to call it out in an appropriate form or manner.

And we must all resolve that every vote matters and that the people have the power of their vote to help control their future.

So let's offer a toast to the New Year of 2018 and then focus the next 365 days on making our community and our world a better place.