$100 or 100 signatures—that’s what it could take for Park City residents to file their candidacy for city council. Park City Recorder Michelle Kellogg says requiring some sort of filing fee or other elections filing requirement for candidates is a trend across the state.
“In talking to some of the recorders, they have been noticing an increase in people who file as a joke, or for a college class project, or to just have it on their resume," Kellogg said. "So we really want people that are committed and have an authentic interest in serving the community. Not that those people don't have a right to file for office, but it is a lot of time, especially when those trigger primaries.”
The 2019 municipal primary election cost Park City nearly $14,000. Park City Councilmember Tim Henney says he’s not in favor of putting up additional barriers to people running for office, but he says that line—where candidates don’t take seriously the weight of the election—has already been crossed.
“I was in a primary where two candidates triggered the primary, and one of them never participated in anything," Henney said. "Another one got, I think, 40 votes in the primary. So I tend to wonder, was that an expenditure of taxpayer funds that was unnecessary? And my feeling in hindsight is it was.”
With a $100 fee for city council and $150 for mayor, the cost to file could prevent some potential candidates from jumping in the race. Councilmember Steve Joyce says that’s where the signature route takes social equity into consideration.
“I would not have been supportive of it if we didn't have the option to have 100 signatures instead of paying money,” Joyce said.
As a recent first-time candidate, newest City Councilmember Max Doilney expressed support for gathering signatures from voters in the community.
“I can say that knocking on doors and asking a stranger for support is skin in the game," Doilney said. "That first door you knock on that you don't know who's gonna pick it up, that’s skin in the game, and I think that that does present that barrier and that interest, and I think that person is going to participate.”
The candidate filing code amendments will come back to the city council for final approval at a later date.