Measure increasing candidate filing fees likely headed to voters

The City Council failed to unanimously approve a proposal to increase candidate filing fees at its meeting this morning, which means the proposal will likely appear on the ballot this fall.

The Charter Commission has proposed increasing the filing fees to $250 for mayor, $100 for a City Council member, $50 for a Park Board commission and $20 for a Board of Estimate & Taxation member.

Currently candidate filing fees are $20.

The proposal needed unanimous approval from the City Council to move forward without a referendum. Council Members Cam Gordon (Ward 2) and Blong Yang (Ward 5) voted against the higher fees, raising concerns about limiting access for some people interested in running for office.

“I’d rather just let it go to the people and let the people decide,” Yang said.

The field of 35 mayoral candidates during the 2013 city election has prompted many people to call for higher filing fees.

City Council Member Lisa Bender (Ward 10) said she heard from people on the campaign trail voice frustration over how many candidates were running for office.

“I heard many times that people were completely overwhelmed by the number of candidates for the various offices, particularly the mayoral office, and were not going to vote just because they were so overwhelmed by the number of choices,” she said.