A dozen people hoping to be the next 29th Ward alderman have submitted paperwork to be on the Feb. 24, 2015 ballot.

Only two other of the Chicago City Council’s 50 wards had more candidates filing petitions. The 7th Ward saw the most filings, with 16 names; the 24th Ward was a close second with 14 names. Candidates must submit at least 473 signatures from ward residents to be considered for a spot on the ballot.

Ald. Deborah Graham, who was appointed by then-Mayor Richard Daley to the position in 2010, filed her paperwork at 9 a.m. Nov. 17, the earliest possible filing day and time, according to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.

Other bright-and-early filers were former assistant State’s and U.S. Attorney La Coulton J. Walls, CookCounty public defender Bob Galhotra and lawyers Lawrence Andolino and Chris Taliaferro.

Maurice J. Robinson filed Nov. 21, while community organizers Deborah D. Williams, Lisa Jackson, Zerlina A. Smith, Oddis “O.J.” Johnson, Stephen Robinson and Brenda Smith all filed throughout Nov. 24, the final day to submit petitions.

If no one candidate wins in February a majority of the vote — at least 50.1 percent — there will be a runoff April 7 between the top two vote getters. Graham avoided that four years ago when she won 52 percent of the vote, beating seven other candidates.

But this year could be different, according to Dick Simpson, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a former Chicago alderman.

“The advantage of multiple challengers, if they get on the ballot, is that they will probably force a runoff, and the challenger has a better chance in the runoff because it has already been shown that the incumbent doesn’t have the majority support,” Simpson said.

Graham, he added, has multiple challengers because they believe the former state lawmaker is vulnerable and can be defeated. But the dozen petition filers haven’t secured their names on the ballot just yet.

Objections to someone’s candidacy can be filed with local election officials until Dec. 3, after which hearings will be scheduled. Typically, people will question the authenticity of a candidate’s signatures, explained Jim Allen, a spokesperson for the city election board.

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

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