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Afton to charge politicians to march in 4th of July parade

Politicians will have to pay to play in Afton's annual Fourth of July Parade this summer.

The Afton City Council recently approved a policy requiring politicians and candidates to pay $50 to march in the popular holiday parade. It is free for other entrants.

Previously, Afton did not charge politicians.

"They really don't bring anything to the parade," Mayor Pat Snyder said.

Council member Randy Nelson disagreed.

"I do think they bring something," he said. "It's a chance to interact."

In addition to charging the $50 fee, City Council on April 19 also approved limiting political supporters to 10 and one vehicle.

Last year Afton's Fourth of July Parade had 13 politicians and many brought with them 50 or so supporters, council member Peg Nolz said.

Council member Bill Palmquist said he was in favor of charging the politicians.

"Everyone else is just doing it for fun, but for (the politicians) they are deriving a great benefit," he said.

Council member Joe Richter questioned Afton's City Attorney whether or not it was legal to charge politicians since the parade is free for all other participants. Richter questioned if charging violated First Amendment rights.

City Attorney Fritz Knaak said charging politicians is not illegal.

Richter also questioned whether or not charging politicians would cause more to simply walk down the sidewalks shaking hands and handing out literature.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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