So you want to run for city office?

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With the general elections less than a month away, you may be thinking about running for a public office yourself. Unfortunately, it is too late for this year, but it’s never too early to start thinking about next year.

At first glance, the whole process can seem a little intimidating. Trying to find all of the information on what steps are required can be a headache in itself. Then with campaigning, primaries, and costs, it may just be too much to take on. But hopefully this will make it a little easier.

To get a general sense of the costs and requirements to run for mayor or city council in a range of municipalities around the metro region, let’s look at Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the small town of Princeton. As you’ll see the differences are dramatic.
To run for mayor or city council in Minneapolis you must live within city limits, fill out an affidavit (application) and pay the $20.00 filing fee or complete a petition with a certain number of signatures to waive that fee. You must also be 21 years of age or older. The filing period is usually between July 1st and July 15th of the year of candidacy. The term length is four years for both Mayor and City Council with no term limits. The next election for both is November 2009 with primaries in September.

In St. Paul, it is similar but with a few minor differences. The filing fee for City Council is $50.00. Of course, you can also create a petition with enough signatures to bypass the fee. The length of terms are four years for both Mayor and City, there are as well no term limits. As in Minneapolis you must be 21 years of age or older to run and live within the city limits. The next election for Mayor and City Council is November 2009 with primaries in September as well. The filing period for St. Paul is also between July 1st and July 15th.

This is where the big difference comes in between small towns and big cities. The age requirement for running for Mayor in Princeton is only 18 and the filing fee a mere $2.00. You must fill out an application at the city office and live within the Princeton city limits. If you live in Princeton Township, you cannot run for Mayor in Princeton; you will have to wait until March and run for city chairman. This is because, as with many other small towns, the township is actually not within the city limits but is its own municipality separate from the city of Princeton. Princeton’s Mayor serves for only a 2 year term while the Princeton City Council has terms of four years. No petition is needed owing to the low filing cost. The filing period for this year was August 25th through September 9th.

Many readers may not live in one of the cities listed above, but don’t despair – detailed information about your city, town or township is available from the office of Minnesota’s Secretary of State. In fact, it can be found online at MN SoS Elections Info (www.sos.state.mn.us/home/index.asp?page=635). It will give more information specific to each city. For those of you already running for city office this year, best of luck. For those of you thinking of running in the future, good luck in the next election cycle.

_Peter Denardo, an 18-year-old student at Anoka Ramsey Community College, is running for Mayor of Princeton_