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Wanna buy your way onto the Minneapolis mayoral ballot? Fee could rise to $250

The Minneapolis Charter Commission Wednesday unanimously approved raising the filing fees for the city's mayor's race to $250, up from the current $20.

Pressure has built to raise the fee in recent elections; 2013's single Ranked Choice Voting mayoral ballot featured 35 candidates. Candidates can also petition their way on a ballot if they gather enough signatures, but many simply threw down the $20.

The Charter Commission vote — which includes other city offices — does not make higher fees law; that's up to the City Council and mayor, if all approve unanimously. Charter Commission chair Barry Clegg says he's been told there are "at least" 12 votes on the 13-member council for the change.

The city has not its fees since the 1960s, says Council Member Cam Gordon, writing on the Minneapolis-Issues discussion list. Gordon notes he was the lone vote last December to raise the mayoral fee to $500, but "at this time I am inclined to support" the $250 compromise.

"It would keep Minneapolis' fees lower than St. Paul [$500] and much more in line with what $20 was worth in the '60s ... and more in keeping with the costs of filing for state office," Gordon wrote.

If unanimity fails, the Charter Commission or Council could put the issue on a future city ballot as a charter change. Clegg notes in that event, his body could change the language or the fee structure should it want to.

Other filing fees would be:

  • $100 for City Council, up from $20
  • $50 for the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board, up from $20
  • $20 for the Minneapolis Board of Estimate and Taxation, no increase.

A proposal last year would've raised the Council filing fee to $250. The current initiative does not change petition-signature levels, which remain an alternative for cash-strapped candidates, or those who would rather demonstrate public support.

State law sets the petition-signature level for local races at 500, or 5 percent in the last election, whichever is fewer. The 500-signature level would be in force for Minneapolis' 2017 mayoral election.

Gordon doesn't believe the compromise higher fees will make for smaller ballots. "Many people think (incorrectly I think) that raising the fee will have an impact on the number of candidates who file."

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Comments (1)

But

Any amount of money or inconvenience to a voter is unacceptable. You can vote for free, but not for a candidate without means.