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Those seeking elected Newberg positions can pay fee rather than gather petition signatures.

GRAPHIC FILE PHOTO - Potential candidates for Newberg elected positions can now simply pay a small fee to earn a spot on the ballot rather than seeking petition signatures under the former system.Due to an ordinance approved last week, individuals seeking to run for city office in Newberg have another means to do so: pay a fee and call it good.

The Newberg City Council, at the behest of City Recorder Sue Ryan, passed an adjustment to the city code on April 20 that allows those candidates to pay a small fee alone. Prior to approval of the code amendment, adopted in 1996, individuals were required to gather 25 petition signatures from registered voters to earn a spot on the ballot.

"So the change would now mean that people could have a choice at least to either approach people to get signatures on their petition sheet or to just pay a filing fee to run for office. …," Ryan said in an email, adding that with the advent of social-distancing requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic, gathering signatures in person seemed unwise.

"There could be some creative ways to do it without getting within 6 feet, but it could still involve a lot of person-to-person contact, knocking on doors, etc.," she said.

The so-called "non-contact" option also will address an ongoing problem with becoming a candidate: petition signatures that are disqualified.

"(Sometimes) people sign and then later are found to not qualify for different reasons — signatures don't match, they don't live in that district, they are not registered to vote at the address they list, etc.," Ryan said.

"Paying the filing fee would allow people the choice to be able to file for office without having to do in-person contact, except for possibly coming to see the city recorder, but they could email in their form and pay over the phone if need be."

The amendment took effect May 1, allowing individuals contemplating a run for city office in the fall to either begin seeking signatures or saving up the cash to earn a spot on the ballot.

"Given the state of affairs because of the coronavirus, and the governor's stay-at-home order that is indefinite right now, I felt it was only ethical to have another option for residents," Ryan said.


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