A proposal to increase filing fees for municipal candidates in Minneapolis will likely go to the voters this fall, after the council failed to pass it unanimously Friday morning.
The charter commission's proposal, a compromise from a previous plan with higher fees, would require candidates for mayor and council to pay $250 and $100, respectively. Candidates need only to pay $20 now to run for all city offices, one reason why the city had 35 candidates for mayor last year.
St. Paul, by contrast, already charges $500 and $250 for mayor and council candidates, respectively.
"Personally I feel that this is a change that is long overdue and I would support even a bit higher filing fee for some of the offices," said Council Member Elizabeth Glidden.
Changing the charter without a referendum requires unanimous approval of the council. But two council members, Cam Gordon and Blong Yang, voted no on Friday.
"I'd rather just let it go to the people," Yang said, adding that he was concerned about the fee making candidacy less accessible. Sure enough, former mayoral candidate Jack Sparrow sat in the audience holding a sign that read "Stop the 'poll tax.'"
There was concern among council members that, by sending the proposal back to the charter commission, they risk the commission reverting to a previous proposal to raise the fees even higher to match St. Paul.
"I happen to be more supportive of these [lower] figures," said Gordon, who voted 'no' because he could not wrangle unanimous support from the council.
The charter commission chair, Barry Clegg, said they will discuss the precise proposal at their next meeting in July.
“We may well go back to the higher schedule, or may end up somewhere in between," Clegg said. "That’s up to the commission to decide.”
For those who cannot afford the filing fee, state law gives them the option to run via petition. To do that, candidates must gather the lesser of 500 signatures or five percent of the total votes cast in the last election.
The next municipal election, when the fee would apply, takes place in 2017.