Chicago Mayor, Richard M. Daley, left reporters speechless today, if only for a few seconds, after making a surprise announcement that he will not seek re-election in February 2011. Mayor Daley's decision to retire from City Hall opened the flood gates of speculation for who will be on the ballot to replace him in 2011. Keep in mind, this will be the first open Chicago Mayoral election since 1947, where an incumbent has not run for Mayor of Chicago. That's 64 years!
Candidates interested in Chicago's top job will have to follow the rules set by the Chicago Board of Elections.
*Nov 15 2010 is first day candidates can file for the mayoral race. Deadline to file is Nov 22, 2010
*All candidates are required to file petitions with at least 12,500 signatures from city residents who are registered voters with a valid address. Candidates are not eligible to file if they have a prior felony conviction, have debts or other financial obligations to the city, including outstanding parking tickets or unpaid water bills.
*All candidates are required to live in city of Chicago for at least the last calendar year.
Considering White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, has expressed interest in running for Mayor of Chicago... I posed the question: if someone is a registered Chicago voter and owns a home in Chicago, but currently lives in Washington, DC, can he/she still run for Mayor? Chicago Board of Elections Spokesman, Jim Allen said, "that is a legal question... that issue hasn't come up in the past." Allen then gave me this hypothetical answer: "If there's a candidate who happens to be serving in the White House cabinet and maintains a residence in the city of Chicago, it's possible they could qualify to run for Mayor."
*Expect objections against petitions filed. Spokesman, Jim Allen says, "at the mayoral level, people always file objections against every candidate who runs. Even Mayor Daley's petitions were subject to objections the last time he ran for Mayor," in February 2007. Typically objections focus on the quality and quantity of names on the candidate's petition and can also touch on residency issues.
*There is no actual primary held in a Chicago mayoral election (there used to be primaries up until 1995 when the Illinois election law changed). The next Mayoral election is February 22, 2011. If no candidate receives 50% + 1 then there will be a runoff election between the top two candidates on April 5th, 2011.
*Mayoral candidates names are not listed with their political party affiliation on the voter ballot.
*The candidate who prevails in February or April's runoff election will be sworn in as the new Mayor of Chicago on May 16, 2011.