CHICAGO (CBS) – Candidates submitted their petitions Monday morning to secure their places on the ballot for mayor and other offices next year.

As CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports, candidates for mayor, the 50 aldermanic seats, city treasurer and city clerk lined up Monday morning in front of the George W. Dunne Cook County Office Building, 69 W. Washington St.

The candidates started lining up at noon Sunday, even though the doors didn’t open until 9 a.m. Hundreds filed into the building to submit their petitions to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.

Some candidates needed carts or wagons to carry them all.

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A total of 12,500 signatures are required to get on the ballot. Gathering more signatures than that is partially symbolic of the support the candidates are claiming to have, but technically, they want to make sure that challenges to certain signatures don’t drop them below the minimum of 12,500.

Mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel’s staff claimed to be filing 91,000 signatures. The staff for candidate Carol Moseley Braun said they submitted 90,100.

Election lawyer Jim Nally said exceeding the minimum is a good idea.

“You need (12,500), but I recommend three times that number, so probably should have 30,000,” he said.

Emanuel was the only major mayoral candidate who did not show up in person Monday morning while filing petitions. Emanuel thanked the volunteers who’d collected and delivered the signatures by taking them to lunch — with the media present. Asked whether his opponents had erred by going to the County Building, Emanuel replied: “There’s no right or wrong answer to this. Every candidate will make their own decision and campaign.”

State Sen. Rev. James Meeks plans to file his petitions later. On Sunday, he pledged to refrain from campaigning negatively. He also challenged his opponents to make a similar promise.

In a statement Monday morning, Emanuel praised Meeks’ statement but stopped short of accepting.

Others weren’t so sure about Meeks’ idea.

“As Harold Washington told us, politics ain’t beanbag,” Moseley Braun said.

“I’ve been positive so far about my campaign,” said former mayoral chief of staff Gery Chico. “However, I will call them like I see them.”

Taking a shot as Rahm Emanuel’s expensive new TV spots, Chico proposed a series of debates to show voters where the candidates stood. He suggested 15 to 20.

Moseley Braun and Congressman Danny Davis, another mayoral candidate, said Chico was on the right track. Emanuel indicated he’s open to debates.

“We’ll figure out the timing and we’ll do that,” he said.

All candidates have until next Monday to file, but only those there by 9 a.m. Monday will be in the lottery for the top position on the February ballot.

Former Chicago School Board president and Daley chief of staff Gery Chico, city Clerk Miguel Del Valle, and New Life Covenant Ministries pastor Rev. Wilfredo de Jesus also announced their intentions to run for mayor some time ago.

Civil rights attorney Christopher Cooper, community activist and previous mayoral candidate William “Dock” Walls, artist Cynthia “Plaster Caster” Albritton, conservative magazine editor R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., Streets and Sanitation Department truck driver Frederick K. White, and hypnotherapist Jay Stone – the son of Ald. Bernard Stone (50th) – are among the others who have declared their candidacy.

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