Chicago mayor candidates face filing deadline

November 22, 2010 (CHICAGO)

The filing deadline for candidates was 5 o'clock Monday evening. Board of Elections officials expected a few last-minute filers.

But it's the race for mayor that is attracting most of the attention. Twenty people have filed petitions to appear on the February ballot for Chicago mayor.

There is one candidate for mayor who was rumored to run and now the public knows he's in the race. Rahm Emanuel's North Side tenant Rob Halpin filed some 20,000 petitions at 69 W. Washington on Monday afternoon.

"This isn't really about me, it's about Chicago. You finally have someone who's an outsider, not a professional politician, who wants to take a crack at running the city. And I think I'll do a good job," said Halpin. "I don't know Rahm. I don't have any dispute with Rahm. I spoke to him once or twice."

On Monday morning, a woman with little name recognition submitted almost 40,000 signatures. Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins says she has grassroots support and has spent three years as a civic leader and community organizer.

"I plan to make my mark by doing exactly what I did in the past," she said. "I did that working with communities, working with people on the streets, grassroots, working to change policy and make changes that we need to make our communities better. And I think that what has prepared me best for this time is my public service. I've been doing this for 30 years. I'm not a career politician."

Candidates need 12,500 signatures to ensure a spot on the February ballot to succeed retiring Mayor Richard Daley.

Several candidates scrambled to be the last ones in before the doors close at 5 p.m. so their names are placed last on the ballot.

"What we'll be prepared for, what we try to prepare for is kind of a dance right outside the door where the candidates say, 'No, you go first. No, you go first. No, you go first.' And eventually we get ready to close the door at 4:59 and somebody makes a decision to either get in the room or not," said Jim Allen, Chicago Board of Elections.

There is no scientific evidence that ballot position makes a difference, although many think it does. For all candidates who filed at 9 a.m. on the first day, November 15, a December 1st lottery will be held to determine who gets the first spot on the ballot.

Attorney Burt Odelson handed in more than 30,000 signatures for mayoral candidate Reverend James Meeks who was under the weather.

"It says that Rev. Meeks is a strong candidate and he's in this to stay and he'll be the next mayor of Chicago," said Odelson.

While Meeks voiced a desire to be last on the ballot, his signature petitions were filed a bit too early. Community activist William "Dock" Walls snuck in during the last few minutes, making him the last out of 18 candidates running for mayor.

"It's often said that the last person on the ballot is at an advantage because you have voters who have gone through and eliminated all the other candidates," said Walls.

A candidate who has decided not to run for mayor but is undecided about what office she wants to hold, is 7th Ward Alderman Sandi Jackson. She turned in signatures for both alderman and city clerk.

"What we're going to do is we're going to take this next week at home with the family, enjoy some turkey and talk about the decision to go forward either with the aldermanic seat or press forward for Chicago city clerk," said Jackson.

Jackson will decide next Monday which office she plans to pursue.

Seventeen-year-old Khaliq Muhammad doesn't care where his name appears on the ballot. He is running for alderman of the 7th Ward.

"I was president of my student council. I want to do this now. I will go to college eventually to study political science but I decided to start right now," said Muhammad.

Friends of Roland Burris, a group that wants to file on the former senator's behalf, were also in line to hand in about 20,000 signatures. Burris was not there.

"Friends of Roland Burris thought he should be on the ballot. We do feel he's the most qualified candidate," said Toni Randle, Friends of Roland Burris.

Commercial real estate broker Tommy Hanson filed about 14,000 signatures.

And at least one lawyer is set to file a legal challenge against former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel involving his residency requirement. Rev. Meeks' attorney said Monday he will likely be challenging Rahm Emanuel's residency.

Chicago requires candidates to reside in the city for one year prior to the election, but city laws differ from state election law, which says a candidate cannot lose his or her residency if he or she is absent while on business for the U.S. or the state of Illinois. Emanuel lived in Washington, D.C., while serving as chief of staff to President Barack Obama.

"I was born in the city of Chicago. I was a congressman from the city of Chicago. I raised my kids here in the city of Chicago. I own a home here in the city of Chicago," Emanuel said.

Over the weekend, former senator Carol Moseley Braun formally announced her candidacy for mayor with a rally in Grant Park. She delayed her announcement because during the weekend prior Emanuel and several other candidates made their announcements. She submitted her petitions along with most of the candidates on the first day the election board began accepting them.

"We have collected 100,000 Chicagoans' signatures," Moseley Braun said.

"We are proud to turn in over 50,000 signatures in support of my candidacy to be the next mayor of Chicago," candidate Gery Chico said November 15.

"It's time for a new era, and we're going to be in there pitching to see if we can't hit a home run! It's time. It's time to go to work. It's time for the campaign to really begin to unfold," said Rep. Danny Davis November 15.

Candidates have until December 23rd to withdraw from the race.

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