Five candidates file for 37th Ward race

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Five candidates filed their petitions last week to run for 37th Ward alderman in the Feb. 24th election.

Incumbent Emma Mitts and challenger Leroy Duncan filed their petitions at 9 a.m. Nov. 17 – the earliest candidates could do so.

Candidates Maretta Brown-Miller, Otis Percy and Tara Stamps filed on the last day, Nov. 24, according to the unofficial list posted on the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners’ website.

While most of the five candidates declined to disclose how many signatures from 37th residents they had collected – at least 473 are required – Stamps said in a statement she had turned in about 2,100 names.

The Chicago Teachers Union has endorsed Stamps, a teacher at Jenner Elementary Academy of the Arts on the North Side. She previously told AustinTalks that if elected, she wants to bring more technology and other resources to West Side classrooms, as well as revitalize local businesses and ban liquor stores in the ward.

Her goals match some of the other candidates, including Mitts, who has represented the ward for 14 years after being appointed by then-Mayor Richard Daley in 2000.

If re-elected, Mitts said she would keep focusing on building a youth center and senior citizen housing.

Duncan, a former CAPS facilitator, has said he wants to have regular community meetings to hear residents’ ideas for a better ward.

Brown-Miller received the second-highest number of votes in the last aldermanic election in 2011, garnering 24 percent of the vote to Mitts’ 58 percent. If she’s successful this time around, Brown-Miller hopes to focus on education and job training, including covering costs for different licensing programs.

Percy said he decided to “pay it forward” to his neighbors by running for alderman this year. After a life-changing kidney transplant in 2009, Percy said he wanted to have a platform where he could advocate for services like after-school programs and better classroom resources.

Meeting last week’s filing deadline doesn’t ensure candidates will be on the February ballot.

Objections to someone’s candidacy can be filed with local election officials yet this week. A common complaint questions the authenticity of a candidate’s signatures, said Jim Allen, spokesman for the city election board. Complaints must be filed by Wednesday, Dec. 3, after which hearings will be scheduled.

The board will also look at each petition to make sure it has “all four corners” in place, including having the correct number of signatures and being properly paginated, Allen said. Any candidate who fails to follow these rules will be removed from the ballot.

Read more on each candidate here.

Also on Dec. 3, the Chicago Board of Elections will use a lottery system to decide the order candidates’ names will appear on the ballot.

Besides the aldermanic races, voters can expect to see this non-binding question on the ballot: Should the city have an elected school board?

Three groups – Grassroots Education Movement, Grassroots Illinois Action and United Working Families – collected more than 50,000 signatures to place the question, also known as an advisory referendum, on the Feb. 24 ballot, according to a joint statement.

“The work of so many community leaders talking to their neighbors all over the city shows clearly that Chicago is ready and excited for change,” said Amisha Patel, executive director of Grassroots Illinois Action.

“The status quo is not working for our children. Instead of constantly trying to shut down democracy, it is time for the mayor and Chicago Public Schools to listen to the people.”

Chicago is the only school district in the state that appoints its members; all the rest are elected by local voters.

About 87 percent of voters in 327 precincts voted “yes” for an elected school board when the same non-binding question was put on the General Election ballot in 2012.

It would be up to the Illinois General Assembly to change the law.

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