Minneapolis filing fee likely headed to ballot

  • Article by: ERIC ROPER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 13, 2014 - 11:07 PM

Without unanimous City Council vote, proposed increase for candidates heads back to charter commission.

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City clerk Casey Carl makes room on a City Hall pillar for another spreadsheet after the 16th round of ranked-choice mayoral vote-counting on Thursday.

Photo: Bill McAuliffe, Star Tribune

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A proposal to increase filing fees for municipal candidates in Minneapolis probably will go to the voters this fall after the council failed to pass it unanimously Friday.

The issue has been a hot topic in the city ever since 35 candidates ran for mayor in 2013. Because the city’s ranked-choice voting system eliminates a primary, voters were greeted with a long list of candidates on Election Day — including a man whose legal name is Captain Jack Sparrow.

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 now need to pay only $20 to run for all city offices.

St. Paul, by contrast, 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 council approval. 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.

Former mayoral candidate 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 council support.

Barry Clegg, charter commission chairman, said the panel will discuss the precise proposal at its next meeting in July.

“We may well go back to the higher schedule, or may end up somewhere in between,” he 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 5 percent of the total votes cast in the last election. In 2013, 79,415 votes were cast for mayor.

The next municipal election, when the fee would apply, takes place in 2017.

 

Eric Roper • 612-673-1732

Twitter: @StribRoper

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