The Baker City Council is wise to try to make it easier for residents to file as candidates for the Nov. 3 general election, during which six of the seven seats on the Council will be open.

The issue — as with so many things these days — is the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the city’s current rules, residents who want to run for City Council must pick up a petition from the city and then collect valid signatures from at least 46 registered voters.

Obviously the pandemic, and the recommendation that people seek to stay at least 6 feet apart, makes the collection of those signatures a significantly more daunting proposition than in the past.

Oregon election law, which Baker City follows, allows an alternative way for candidates to get on the ballot — pay a fee.

But the City Council has to pass an ordinance setting that fee. Councilors took the first step Tuesday, approving the first of three required readings of an ordinance.

The deadline for candidates to file is Aug. 25, whether they choose to gather signatures or pay the filing fee.

That fee was originally proposed at $50, but the version councilors approved Tuesday sets it at $25.

Not an exorbitant amount, to be sure, but neither is it a trifling sum for some people.

The Council’s goal of making candidacy as accessible as possible is a laudable one.

To that end, councilors should eliminate the filing fee altogether.

— Jayson Jacoby, Baker City Herald editor

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