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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Aaron Samuels for Alderman (Prologue)

I may have mentioned it before, but ever since 2006, it's been a dream of mine to run for City Council here in Chicago and be an Alderman. It all started on that fateful day when the Chicago City Council unanimously voted to ban the sale of foie gras after they were shown a shock video by PETA and asked to vote on this law.

The aftermath: Chicago was mocked by other cities, the ban was proved to be useless by restauranteurs, and even the Mayor said it was the "silliest law" until it was finally repealed two years later.

I made up my mind. I would run for Alderman just to make sure that SOMEONE on the Chicago City Council would be the voice of reason whenever PETA rolled around. I expanded my idea by wanting to be a city representative who could see both sides on an issue and be able to play Devil's Advocate - as well as to speak up when any alderman is (in my opinion) completely wrong.

This spread out into even more ideas about being a young member of City Council who could spruce up the webpage for our ward and respond to questions using YouTube and maybe do Ward Podcasts.

And then I found out in 2007 that I missed my chance to run. But I vowed that I would do everything in my power to run in 2011 and get my name on that ballot and - who knows - maybe even win a seat on the City Council of Chicago.

Every now and then since that day in 2007, I've tried to find out how the heck one even runs for public office - let alone run for City Council specifically. I've checked message boards, Googled the question, surfed and rummaged through the Chicago City website - and no definite results.

About a month ago, I started e-mailing. I sent e-mails out to any info e-mail address I could come across, asking the same questions, hoping that someone earning a government paycheck could point me in the right direction so that someday I might earn one as well.

Yesterday, I actually got a response.


You will need to direct your email/inquiry to the Chicago Board of Elections. You can visit them on the web and obtain pertinent contact information at the url: http://www.chicagoelections.com

Thank you.
Office of the Chicago City Clerk

So I was getting closer. Somehow my searching hadn't pointed me to this site, probably due to the keywords I was using. So I searched and found nothing to answer my question. But there was yet another e-mail address to query, and query I did.

And that same day, I got a response from someone at the Chicago Elections website.

Dear Voter,
Please note that we will be posting information on the 2011 election cycle on at chicagoelections.com under the "for candidates" section in coming weeks. However, the information that we post and the information below is all subject to change with any new legislation in Springfield or rulings in court cases.
Any potential candidate is advised to consult with the Illinois Compiled Statutes, the Election Code, the Municipal Code as well as an attorney who is well versed in election law and related case law. This is intended to be general information and not a legal opinion, as the Board cannot provide legal advice to candidates or potential candidates for two reasons: (1) the Board determines the legality of candidates' nominating petitions; and (2) state laws are subject to change. With those caveats, the basic qualifications for appearing on the ballot to run for alderman in the City of Chicago are that the candidate: (1) be an elector (registered voter, 18 years or older and a U.S. citizen) who has resided in the ward for at least one year prior to election; (2) be in compliance with all other restrictions/requirements under Illinois law, which include, but are not limited to: having submitted a petition with sufficient valid signatures of qualified electors from that ward; not having been convicted of a felony; ot having any outstanding fines, penalties or debts to the municipality; and having completed other necessary paperwork, such as the petition, statement of candidacy, ethics filings, etc. For more information, prospective campaigns are strongly advised to review all relevant statutes ( http://www.ilga.gov/ ) and strongly advised to consult with an attorney who is versed in the Election Code.
State laws may change between now and the filing, and the numbers of signatures needed will be determined, under current law, based on the results in the 2010 election cycle. With those caveats, we have attached the 2007 Election Calendar, which lists documentation rules that were in effect for that 2007 election -- solely for reference purposes. Please note that the Election Board will be updating its web site to include information on the 2011 Municipal Elections in the months after the Primary Election. We hope this information is helpful and thank you for the opportunity to be of assistance.

Board of Election Commissioners for the City of Chicago
69 West Washington Street, Suites 600/800
Chicago, Illinois 60602

So now I have more of an answer and I can begin preparations. The document had a lot of random information, but there are pieces I can ascertain based on what lies within.

For the 2007 Elections:

September 19, 2006: First day to circulate for signature candidate nominating petitions for the offices of Mayor, Clerk, Treasurer and Alderman.

December 11, 2006: First day to file candidate nomination papers for the offices of Mayor, Clerk, Treasurer and Alderman with the Board of Election Commissioners.

December 18, 2006: Last day to file candidate nomination papers for the offices of Mayor, Clerk, Treasurer and Alderman with the Board of Election Commissioners.

December 26, 2006: Last day to file objections to candidate nomination papers for the offices of Mayor, Clerk, Treasurer and Alderman for the February 27, 2007 Municipal General Election. File in the office of the Board of Election Commissioners.

February 7, 2007: Last day for candidates for the office of Alderman to withdraw as a candidate. File in the office of the Board of Election Commissioners.

February 27, 2007: MUNICIPAL GENERAL ELECTION for the offices of Mayor, Clerk, Treasurer for the City of Chicago and for the office of Alderman in all wards of the City of Chicago. Polling places are open from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

So there you have it. Sometime in June of 2010 they will be posting this document regarding the February 2011 elections. I'll be able to officially start my campaign to collect signatures in September, and if I hit the right number by December, I'm in (unless the encumbent goes all lawyer on me and objects to me being on the ballot). If I make it on and it causes me such grief that I want to get the hell out of there, I've got over a month afterwards to figure it out. (Unlikely!) And then in February it all goes down!

So how many signatures do I need?

See "Table A: Minimum Signature Required on Aldermanic Nominating Petitions - City of Chicago"

Basically by ward, they tally up the total votes from the previous municipal election (in this case, 2007) and they take 2% of that number (and round up) and that's the number of signatures I'll need to get.

So if in February 2003, my ward had a total of 12,518 votes placed, in order to get on the ballot for February 2007 I would need (2% of 12,518 = 250.36) signatures from 251 registered voters.

I do believe the numbers for the February 2007 elections show my ward having cast 9,861 votes - ergo I should only need to get 198 petition signatures!

This is it, folks. I'm excited!

More to come as I wait for the process to finally begin - or if I get some cool comments/questions to answer that would warrant more Prologue to the story before my campaign even becomes official.

So ask me some questions! Show me support! Just leave a comment!

And then Digg this article!

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