Mayoral Election Heats Up

Sarah Volante, Copy Editor

 Illinois politics is known for its corruption. The state’s most publicized disgrace of the past few years was when the government was under national scrutiny for the Rod Blagojevich scandal. Politics is about to get even crazier with the beginning of Chicago’s mayoral race. In February of 2011, it will be time for voters to elect someone new into the position. For the past 21 years, Richard M. Daley has served as mayor but has announced that he will not be seeking another term. It didn’t take long after the September announcement for several politicians to publicly express their desire for the job. Until recently, that interest was simply a frenzy of talk and excitement. Now, it is becoming official.

November 15 was the official kickoff of Chicago’s election season. It marked the day during which the candidates for mayor, alderman, and various other city offices would present their petitions for a place on the ballot to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. It has become a tradition of Chicago politics for candidates and their representatives to arrive at the building long before the opening time of 9:00.

The reason behind arriving prior to opening is because those candidates who have submitted their petitions by the said time are put in a lottery that places the winner’s name on the top of the ballot. Any other petitions must be filed with the election board by November 22 to be accepted. Those submissions may be challenged up until November 30. In order to be placed on the ballots, one must have at least 12,500 valid signatures of registered Chicago voters on their petition.

Not only is this an important position due to Chicago’s influence on the rest of the country, but also a prestigious one. Rahm Emmanuel demonstrated the honor of the role when he said, “Only the opportunity to help President Obama as his chief of staff could have pried me away from [Chicago], and only the opportunity to lead this city could have pried me away from the President’s side. Because he knows and loves Chicago, President Obama supported my decision — for which I am grateful.”

Emmanuel’s former White House position was one that came with a respected reputation and the opportunity to work with President Obama. Immediately following Daley’s announcement, there were reports of Emmanuel possibly resigning from the job to attempt pursuing his dream of becoming mayor of Chicago. For his petition, Rahm had gathered 90,905 signatures out of the 1.4 million registered Chicago voters. With that in mind, the total number of signatures represented 1 in 16 voters. Rahm Emmanuel not only has the support of the President, but a decent backing from Chicago voters.

Now that candidates are becoming locked in, campaigning is about to heat up. Chicago is currently the third largest city in the United States. That status brings positions such as the mayor of Chicago a lot of power and influence across the nation. The entire country is watching to see what is going to unfold in Chicago’s politics. February 22, 2011, could spark change in the success that Daley has brought the city across his six terms as mayor. The question is: who can handle such an important responsibility? Richard M. Daley has made great strides in improving the city and it will take a strong leader to successfully follow in his footsteps. Chicago must vote wisely because if the wrong mayor is elected, the power and financial strength of Chicago will likely crumble.