I’m too broke to run for mayor.
To officially sign up, get your name on the ballot and be considered a “real candidate,” the filing fee is 2 percent of the mayor’s annual salary. That comes to $5,706.
Now I know that’s not a lot of money, but really it is a lot of money, especially when you consider that it only buys you the ticket that gets you in the door. I know plenty of people who would do a far better job than Ed Lee for whom $5,706 is just too much money. It’s practices like these that continue to make politics a rich person’s game, and it’s hard to get rich people to legislate for anybody other than other rich people when those are the only people they know.
I’m too broke to run for mayor, but I have family members who aren’t. When I decided I was gonna do this whole thing, I called up my Grandma Blanche and my Uncle Howie and together they gave me enough money to allow me to actually run. Notice that I said I was too “broke” to run for mayor, not that I was too poor. There’s a difference: Being broke is situational, whereas being poor is systematic. It’s a class thing. Most people who are poor are born into it, just as their parents and grandparents were, and the system is set up to keep them that way. Making it so that only rich people (or people who represent rich people) are able to get elected is part of this system. Poor people don’t have relatives they can hit up for $5,706 in filing fees. Some broke people do.
If you want to get on the ballot but don’t have the cash, there is an alternative to paying that chunk of money. You can gather signatures in lieu of the fee. But do you know how many signatures it takes to get on the ballot? 11,412! And they all have to be valid signatures of voters who live at the address where they are registered to vote. This means that you’re going to get a fair amount of signatures that get rejected, so you’re gonna have to get far more than 11,412 signatures. Even if you do get all valid ones it’s still a hell of a lot of signatures. Who has that much free time? I certainly don’t. I’m so busy hustling to pay my bills that I barely have enough time to shower every day. So once again, the only people who can run for mayor have to have enough money that they can spend hundreds of hours getting signatures, and at that point it probably just makes sense to pony up the $5,706.
All of you out there who may one day want to run for mayor shouldn’t be completely discouraged: you can do a hybrid. Each signature is worth $0.50, meaning you can offset the costs of your filing fee by getting some signatures. That said, this entire thing stinks.
I’m too broke to run for mayor, but that shouldn’t be the case. At a time when we have an epidemic of working-class people being turned out of their homes, it’s important that we have someone who doesn’t represent the wealthy to speak out for everyone else. Wish me luck.