Candidates for city offices start filing petitions today

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Before he leaves office, Chicago’s first Jewish mayor is trying to strengthen ties between the city and Israel. | Colin Boyle/Sun-Times

Candidates for all 50 aldermanic races, as well as those running for mayor, city clerk and treasurer will begin submitting their nominating petitions Monday morning.

And those in line when the doors open at 9 a.m. in the basement of the Cook County Building, 69 W. Washington St., will be put in a lottery to determine whose name will go atop the ballot.

The occasion will mark the rare opportunity to see several politicians engaged in a bit of manual labor — of the political theater variety — as they schlep boxes filled with signatures to one of 12 check-in stations.

Candidates for the three citywide races need a minimum of 12,500 signatures. But candidates generally try to double or triple that amount to ensure they have enough to withstand any challenges. In the past, some have hauled in several boxes on wheeled carts to file tens of thousands of extra signatures.

At last glance there were 18 candidates preparing to throw a hat in the ring for the main event: the contest to fill outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s post on the fifth floor of City Hall. Election Day is Feb. 26, 2019.

Aldermanic candidates need far fewer signatures to get on the ballot.

It’s not a requirement that candidates show up in person to file their petitions. Some have been known to send proxies.

But one potent draw for candidates and footmen: the television newscasters, photographers and reporters who perennially cover the event.

“We try to cut down on the circus atmosphere of it and limit it to four people per petition allowed in the room,” said Jim Allen, a spokesperson for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.

“No campaign entourages allowed … we’ve had to call people out on it before. They know the TV cameras are in the room so they want to make it a giant event.”

The last day to submit signatures to gain a ballot spot is Nov. 26.

Candidates seeking the last spot on the ballot may enter a lottery for the position by submitting signatures during the last hour of the final day.

Lotteries for the first and last ballot spots — thought by some to offer an electoral advantage — will be held Dec. 5.

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