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Mayor Lori Lightfoot is filing for a second term

Chicago Mayor Laurie Lightfoot filed her re-election bid Monday as Chicago’s election cycle enters a period where candidates for local office try to knock each other off the ballot.

“Today’s filing ends one part of the campaign and opens another,” she said after filing a stack of nomination papers that almost reached her shoulders as it sat on the Election Commission’s desk. Flanked by supporters and Chicago First Lady Amy Ashleman Lightfoot quipped that her stack of more than 40,000 signatures “seems enough to me” before saying the next focus is on telling voters “why the only rational choice is to bring me back to the office.”

She has touted her record by claiming she runs the “fairest” vaccine program in the country, has made progress in making Chicago the “safest big city in the country” and protects “workers and their rights.” She also tried to energize her first campaign in 2019 as one of rebellion and change — though this time she’s running as an incumbent.

“What’s on the ballot, do we go back to the status quo that has left huge swaths of our city with our residents out of the equation, out of Chicago’s future? Or do we keep moving forward on the path we’ve been on?” Lightfoot said. “And the path we’ve followed, people, is unapologetically about justice. It’s about inclusion. It’s about ensuring that no part of our city is forgotten, that every part receives resources and participates in the prosperity of our city.”

Chicago’s petition process is one of the most famous holdovers from the old school political machine. To run for mayor, a candidate must submit 12,500 voter signatures, which can be disqualified on narrow technical grounds. So far, six candidates have submitted their signatures for the mayoral nomination: Ald. Sophia King, activist Ja’Mal Green, Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Wallace, businessman Willie Wilson and state representative Kam Buckner.

Lightfoot, Ald. They are expected to be joined Monday by Roderick Sawyer and U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chewy” Garcia, who will later enter the race as a declared candidate.

Lightfoot’s decision not to file on the first day drew scorn from rivals who said it reflected organizational problems as the mayor faces an uphill battle for re-election. But Lightfoot brushed off the criticism.

On Monday, she also went against conventional wisdom by filing her motions first on the last filing day, rather than at the end of the day. This means she also gives up the chance to be last on the ballot, which is often preferred when a candidate is not first.

The incumbent mayor said her lack of interest in playing the game is because she’s not worried about name recognition — and because “I’ve actually got a city to run, too.”

“The position on the ballot is when you are unknown and people don’t know you. They know who I am,” Lightfoot said, to which the fan added to reporters, “You better listen.”

Lightfoot’s coalition of supporters included the colorfully dressed activist Wallace “Alligator” Bradley, a pardoned ex-gangster who frequented Chicago’s City Hall, and U.S. Representative Danny Davis, a longtime member of the city’s black political establishment. who recently fended off a progressive primary challenger to win a 14th term in Congress.

After all signatures are submitted by the end of the day Monday, candidates will have until Dec. 5 to challenge their opponents’ signatures and have them removed from the ballot.

In the 2019 mayoral election, Cook County Council President Tony Preckwinkle, who ended up losing to Lightfoot in a runoff, had former Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown removed from the ballot. Green also retired that year after facing a tough challenge from Wilson.

Election lawyers often encourage candidates to collect about three times the minimum number of signatures because challengers can use allegations of forgery, fraud and smaller technicalities to invalidate the signatures and knock opponents out of the race. On Monday, Lightfoot said she had collected more than 40,000 signatures, more than three times the threshold.

Election day is February 28, the second round is scheduled for April 4, if none of the candidates gets more than 50% of the votes.

The six candidates who filed first on Nov. 21 will enter a lottery to determine who is first on the ballot.

In closing remarks before leaving the election board room, Lightfoot sought to warn the media that while leaders like her face “difficult conditions,” her candidacy should not be discounted.

“I know how to create coalitions. I know how to bring people together,” Lightfoot said. “Whenever there’s trouble and you’re all thinking, ‘She can’t do it because of this and that and the other and people don’t like her personality and so much more,’ we deliver every time.” So print it.’


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