The 2013 mayoral election in Minneapolis was the first hotly contested one to use ranked-choice voting. Much concern has been expressed about the large number of candidates. As one of them, and as a participant in the Occupy movement, I have advocated for getting money out of politics. I would like to suggest an alternative to raising the filing fee or requiring nominating petitions — the two most popular approaches to “culling the herd.”
Let those wishing to run for office perform some kind of service for their constituents. It could be something like the community service that people who are convicted of petty criminal offenses are required to perform instead of doing jail time or paying a fine. Not only would the candidates be providing a service (which they would not be doing by collecting signatures), they could demonstrate their commitment and perhaps learn about a portion of their constituency they never knew much about because of how and where they were raised and now live.
They could volunteer in hospitals, nursing homes, homeless shelters, prisons or mental-health facilities. At the end of their service, those they worked with could grade their efforts and qualifications.
Voters then would be in a better position to eliminate from consideration some of the well-off riffraff whom they may recognize as little more than carpetbaggers intent in enriching themselves and their financiers at constituents’ expense.
CAPTAIN JACK SPARROW, Minneapolis