Candidates file Chicago mayoral petitions

November 15, 2010 4:36:15 PM PST
Candidates for mayor and other local offices rolled stacks of signed petitions into City Hall Monday morning.

The ritual at the Board of Elections office marks the beginning of the city's election season.

The earlier a candidate files, the better their chances of getting a prized spot at the top of the ballot.

Most of the candidates for mayor were in line at 9 a.m. to make themselves eligible for the drawing to determine the top spot, but the crowd at 69 W. Washington swelled with the hundreds of people who want to serve as Chicago aldermen.

Rahm Emanuel's campaign submitted almost 91,000 signatures. The former White House chief of staff's supporters came to file in his place.

"He would be a great mayor because of his credentials, the caliber of work that he has accomplished, his personal commitment, true native of Chicago," said Emanuel supporter Russell Lee Nicholson.

Emanuel has also made his first major commercial buy in the mayoral campaign. In the ad, which was airing Monday, Emanuel narrates video of his listening tour of city neighborhoods.

One statement in particular from the ad has rubbed some other candidates the wrong way.

"I think we're at a crossroads," Emanuel says in the ad. "We gotta decide whether we're going to continue to be a great city, or become a second tier city."

So - is he saying that if anyone else is elected mayor, Chicago will become a "second tier city"?

"If the suggestion is there, I would put that in the 'arrogant' category," said mayoral candidate and City Clerk Miguel del Valle.

"He can say that, but I've already helped make it a top tier city," said mayoral candidate Gery Chico, a former top aide to Mayor Richard M. Daley. "This is not about what you're gonna, gonna, gonna do - it's looking back to what you have done."

Emanuel is reportedly spending $750,000 to broadcast the ad. He resume his listening tour Monday afternoon and said that he is not suggesting that he alone could save Chicago from 'second tier-ness'.

"The decisions we make over the next couple of years will determine whether Chicago stays a world class city or it doesn't," he said.

Mayoral candidates needed 12,500 signatures apiece. All of the candidates' campaigns claimed to have brought many more than that.

"We are very proud to turn in over 50,000 [signatures] in support," said Chico, who appeared in person to push his message. "I believe passionately about the future of our city. We need new schools. We need a new school system. Our citizens need jobs desperately."

Mayoral candidate and former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun filed a similar number of signatures to Emanuel's total, even though she has not yet formally announced her candidacy.

"We're filing 91,000 because we've done a verification, and you have to go through the process," said Moseley Braun.

Moseley Braun touted her connection to the people of Chicago as she filed her petitions.

"I feel the heart of Chicago. I can relate to people. I don't have to have someone show me where the neighborhoods are. I know this city," Moseley Braun said.

Congressman Danny Davis, who is also in the bustling mayoral field, came downtown to file.

"It's time for a new era, and we're gonna be in there pitching. And we're gonna see if we can hit a home run," Davis said.

Davis also said that unifiying the city is the most important priority.

"I don't think Mr. Emanuel has any greater potential of brining the city of Chicago together," said Davis.

Dozens of people spent the night camped out in front of the county office building just to be the first in line to file when the doors opened at 6 a.m., saving spots for their candidates.

State Senator James Meeks, who announced his candidacy yesterday, did not file petitions today. He reportedly wants his name to appear last on the ballot for mayor in the belief that position also is one most noticed by many voters.

A lottery next month will determine in what order the candidates who filed this morning will appear on the ballot.

At McCormick Place Monday, Mayor Daley said an international vision for the city is something voters should consider about the candidates hoping to succeed him.

"All of them have to understand that you can't live in the past," said Daley. "If you live in the past, this would be a roller rink."

Sen. Meeks vowed Sunday to run a positive campaign, and Emanuel issued a statement praising Meeks for the promise.

Chico and Moseley Braun, asked about their plans Monday, would not sign on to that pledge.

"This is Chicago, and as Harold Washington told us: 'politics ain't beanbag,'" said Moseley Braun.

The filing process will continue until the end of the business day on November 22nd. At that point, candidates may challenge the validity of each other's petitions or residency.

Mayoral candidates have already threatened to challenge Rahm Emanuel's residency. The former congressman leased his house and has not lived in it for the past year while he served as White House chief of staff.

Candidates for alderman also turned up Monday morning. 31st Ward Alderman Ray Suarez and other incumbents filed petitions for re-election and got a chance to meet and size up their prospective challengers.

"I'm getting a chance to meet all the people who are gonna run for this great position of alderman in the City of Chicago," said Suarez.

George Cardenas, the 12th Ward alderman, said the fact that he has five opponents is "part of democracy... part of the system."

Aldermanic candidates need the signatures of only 2 percent of the voters in their 2006 ward elections. Election board hearing officers will validate or invalidate challenged signatures.

"They go through the arduous process of examining signatures, checking residency, and addressing the legal issues that may be raised to the validity of a petition," said Langdon Neal of the Chicago Board of Elections.

In the Northwest Side's 45th Ward, nine people are already trying to knock off longtime incumbent Alderman Patrick Levar.

"If you have enough people come out to vote and you pull that incumbent below 50 percent, then when the runoff, you have all the people who voted against him usually go for that number two candidate, and that's how you beat him," said 45th Ward candidate John Garrido.

Weekend mayoral bid announcements

Several candidates officially announced their intentions to run for Chicago mayor over the weekend.

On Sunday, State Sen. James Meeks staged an announcement rally at the UIC Forum. Earlier in the day, Davis gathered his supporters in the Loop. On Saturday, Emanuel made his formal announcement at a North Side grade school. All three candidates claimed to be unifiers and offered solutions for Chicago's problems.

"I know how to get the job done. I know how to unite this city. I know how to be a unifier," said Meeks.

"I am prepared to bridge the gap between affluent, wealthy communities and those that are still struggling," said Davis.

"I want to fight for a better future for all the people of Chicago, and that's why today I'm announcing my candidacy for mayor," said Emanuel.


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