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Submission of documents for the election of the mayor, city council begins

On Monday morning, the downtown Chicago Board of Elections supersite will be filled with a motley collection of political players, good government enthusiasts, wannabes, optimists, haves, never-haves and other characters looking to stamp their mayoral ticket for the next four years.

Candidates who show up at the building on the first day to submit petition signatures and are in line by 9 a.m. get a chance to appear at the top of the ballot in their race. It’s a seat that, according to consultants, gives candidates modest advantages in elections that sometimes go down to the last vote.

With 10 announced mayoral candidates, this year’s petition drive will also provide an opportunity for candidates to demonstrate their organizational power. That number is already down by one, with Ald. Ray Lopez announcing early Monday he won’t be seeking the mayor’s top job, instead running for re-election.

Another person who will not file for mayor on Monday is Mayor Laurie Lightfoot, who said last week that she would not submit her signatures on the first day and would instead wait until the last day to file as it was in 2018. .

“There’s no magic to it, but we’ll wait until the 28th,” Lightfoot said.

The difference between then and now, however, is that Lightfoot in 2018 was a long-shot, facing stiff headwinds against much more established opponents. This time, Lightfoot again faces a stiff headwind from a crowded field of competitors, but she has the advantage of the incumbents.

Before filing began, one of her challengers, businessman Willie Wilson, accused her of not planning to file on the first day.

“We plan to be the first. We already have more than 60,000 petitions,” Wilson said last week. “People will spend the night for us. … She obviously has a lot of trouble signing petitions.”

Chicago’s nominating petition process is one of the best-known holdovers of old-school machine politics. To run for mayor, a candidate must submit 12,500 voter signatures, which can be disqualified on narrow technical grounds.

Fourth Ward Ald. Sophia King, another mayoral contender, said Monday that she has submitted more than 37,000 signatures. Without naming the mayor, she noted that she was the only woman to file first thing Monday and noted that “most people file on the first day if they have strong signatures.”

“I think it’s a strong message that people are hearing our message and that we’re here to collaborate, not to be belligerent, but to bring people together and make sure our city is moving in the right direction,” she said. journalists.

Among the top issues she said she would tackle as mayor: crime.

“We’re talking about bringing in more officers on the first day to sit two shifts. We’re talking about putting $200 million into violence prevention,” and hiring more detectives.

Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Wallace touted having “north of 40,000” signatures and said his supporters had “no problem at all” collecting them from all over the city, “so I’m happy.” He also noted Lightfoot’s absence on Monday.

Wallace said he believes Lopez’s departure from the race will help him, saying Lopez has “always been outspoken about public safety.”

The candidates largely declined to say whether they would contest the other candidates’ petitions. Their filing begins with a roughly month-long period in which candidates often challenge their opponents’ petitions in hopes of getting people off the ballot.

A young lawyer named Barack Obama won his first state Senate seat by knocking incumbent Alice Palmer off the ballot in a defiant petition.

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. Activist Ja’Mal Green also dropped out after facing a stiff challenge from Wilson.

Because in Chicago, candidates sometimes file claims to force opponents to spend time and money defending their signatures. Preckwinkle failed to challenge the signatures filed by Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza and Lightfoot.

Election lawyers often encourage candidates to collect about three times the 12,500 minimum because challengers can use allegations of forgery, fraud and smaller technicalities to invalidate signatures and knock opponents out of the race.

Although candidates often submit their names on the first day of filing, there are strategic advantages to waiting. Filing late can give candidates more time to gather signatures and leave their opponents one less week to sift through signatures and file an appeal.

The last day to submit documents this year is November 28. The deadline for submitting objections is December 5. The election will take place on February 28, and if no one gets at least half of the votes, a runoff between the top two will take place on April 4.


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