Run for Elected City Office

​One way to make a difference in the community is to serve as an elected official at the City.

Elected City positions

The elected officials of the City are the Mayor, eight City Councilors, and the Municipal Judge. The Mayor and City Councilors develop and make decisions on policies that direct the operation of the City, which are implemented by the City Manager.  The Municipal Judge presides over the municipal court which has authority over all offenses punishable by City of Salem ordinances, all violations, and all traffic offenses excluding felony traffic crimes.

Candidate requirements include:

Elected office Term Residence requirements Additional qualifications

​Mayor (unpaid volunteer position)

​2 years ​Live within the city limits 12 months prior to election

Registered voter

​Not a current employee

​City Councilor (unpaid volunteer position) ​4 years ​Live within the city ward candidate seeks to represent 12 months prior to election

​Registered voter

Not a current employee

​Municipal Judge ​4 years ​United States citizen and a resident of Salem for 12 months prior to election ​At least 21 years of age and an active member in good standing with the Oregon State Bar

The City Charter contains more details about the elected positions. More information is available in the Salem Revised Code about Elections and Ethics for Public Officials.

Become a candidate

The Salem City Recorder serves as the City’s Elections Official and administers elections of City candidates and measures.

The Secretary of State’s Election Division oversees statewide elections and administers state requirements for local elections. Their website contains information regarding running for office, and forms and filing deadlines for candidates and city measures. Helpful resources include:

  1. Make an appointment to meet with the City Recorder for a candidate briefing.

  2. The following items must be completed for submission at the candidate briefing:

  3. If approved, the City Recorder will provide a letter granting permission to circulate signature sheets.

The deadline for candidate filings for the May 15, 2018, primary election is March 6, 2018, at 4:00 p.m.

  1. Begin circulating petitions to collect signatures from qualified voters. You should try to get more than the required signatures to ensure enough valid signatures are collected.

    • If running for Mayor or Municipal Judge: Collect a minimum of 200 qualified signatures from voters residing within the city and from at least 1/5 of the voting precincts. Contact the Marion County Elections Office at 503-588-5041 and the Polk County Clerk at 503-623-9217 for more information on precincts.

    • If running for City Council: Collect more than 50 qualified signatures from voters residing within the ward in which the candidate resides and seeks to represent.

  2. Do not sign and date the petition sheets until all signatures have been gathered.

  3. You must have signatures certified with the Marion County Elections Office or Polk County Clerk (for Ward 8 councilor candidates).

  4. After the signature sheets are certified, file Form SEL 338: Petition Submission along with the certified signature sheets with the City Recorder by the deadline. The deadline for the May 15, 2018, primary election is March 6, 2018, at 4:00 p.m.

Prior to gathering any signatures, signature sheets must be approved by the City Recorder. Failure to do so will result in the rejection of those signature sheets.

Establish a campaign account and file a Statement of Organization, no later than 3 business days from first receiving a contribution or by the deadline unless the candidate meets all of the following:

  • Candidate is the treasurer for their own campaign.
  • Candidate does not have an existing candidate committee.
  • Candidate does not expect to receive or spend more than $750 during a calendar year on the campaign (including personal funds).

Please review the Campaign Finance Manual for instructions and a schedule of filing deadlines.

Oregon law requires that campaign finance activities be filed electronically (with State Elections). Candidates can use ORESTAR free of charge to file forms.

It is optional to provide a candidate statement to the Marion County Elections Office or to the Polk County Clerk for inclusion in the respective County Voters’ Pamphlet.

Candidate Statements must be filed directly with the county no later than March 8, 2018, by 5:00 p.m. for the May 15, 2018, primary election.

Additional information concerning cost, requirements, and filing deadlines are available from either Marion County or Polk County elections offices.

Withdraw from an election

To withdraw as a candidate, complete and file Form SEL 150: Candidacy Filing Withdrawal with the City Recorder no later than the date prescribed on the form.

For the May 15, 2018, primary election, this form must be filed no later than March 9, 2018 by 5:00 p.m., otherwise the candidate’s name will be printed on the ballot.

Candidate signs

Before displaying signs or distributing handbills for an upcoming election, review the City’s regulations regarding signs. Political signs are considered “temporary signs” in the Salem Sign Code. Such signs must meet the standards specified in Salem Revised Code Chapter 900.

Obtain permission from the property owner or resident prior to placing political advertisement signs on private property.

Adhering to the sign code will make your campaign more effective, lessen criticism of your signs, and maintain the neat and attractive appearance of our community. For more information about the sign code, contact Planning Services.

​Additional information

What is a city ward?
A city ward is a designated district of the city used for political purposes.

What ward do I live in?
Residents can use this interactive ward map to determine the ward in which they live.

Am I a registered voter?
Voter registration is managed by the county. Please search the Marion County voter register or contact the Polk County Clerk’s Office to obtain further information.

Contact us

City Recorder
Monday–Friday
8 a.m.–12 p.m. and 1 p.m.–5 p.m.
555 Liberty ST SE RM 205
Salem OR 97301
Phone: