Although Mayor Daley will soon be moving on as Chicago’s most powerful leader, there is still work to do. With 21 years of public service to the “gem of a town” that sits on Lake Michigan, Daley takes some time to talk about the future, as well as reflecting on the past.
On His Decision To Leave
Naturally, comparisons were made between Daley and his father, Richard J. One of those comparisons was the length of time Daley would stay in office. Many believed Richard M. would follow in his dad’s footsteps, only this time the reign would be longer. Daley has run virtually unopposed, elected quickly. Daley feels people may have underestimated his character.
Part of that character the mayor is referring to is knowing when to step down. “It’s just time,” Daley says. He points out he enjoys a challenge; governing the city with all its issues was a part of the job he relished. After 21 years, he feels its’ another person’s turn.
His wife Maggie’s illness has nothing to do with the decision. No family issues. Simple as that. Together with his spouse, Daley shares that months of careful consideration were invested before making such a monumental decision. For the most part, Maggie Daley didn’t offer a whole lot of advice to the city’s head honcho. She pretty much left the decision up to him.
Chicago’s first lady has been battling cancer for eight years, now. Even though she has suffered a few setbacks of late, her intentions are to continue the philanthropic work done over the years. Husband and wife appeared at the Gary Comer Youth Center to promote summer jobs for teens which is part of an after-school program begun by Maggie Daley 19 years ago.
On Still Being Mr. Mayor
Daley insists there is still work to do as mayor. His focus, of course like most citizens, is on the budget which reflects a $655 million deficit. Raising taxes is not an option as the seasoned leader believes people just don’t have the dollars to spare at this time. Whittling away at the red bottom line by finding opportunities to save the city money is one of the ways the mayor will employ to knock off the numbers.
Public hearings is one tool the mayor relies on. The voice of the people can be useful to Daley when deciding what direction he should take.
Leaving will be bittersweet for the long-time mayor but he will do so with the city in tact. That’s his plan. “I am going to leave this in good shape,” Daley states, ” This city will be in good shape from the chief of staff all the way down.”
On Naming His Successor
If you try to corner Daley for a personal endorsement you won’t get one. Not from him. His take: any number of accomplished politicos can be considered for the coveted post. Some, he indicates, will do a better job as head of the Windy City. The next in line should be better to improve the office.
On Unfinished Business For the New Leader
On the menu as the main order of business, besides the big deficit: reversing the flow of the Chicago River. Done almost 100 years ago, engineers changed the flow to keep pollution in the river from entering into Lake Michigan. In doing so, thousands of gallons of water are diverted from the lake, instead entering into the Mississippi River.
Today we have a handle on the situation; the Chicago River is much cleaner. It is something that will have to be studied and addressed, hopefully by the new mayor in town.
Of course, there are many other important issues the newly elected leader will face from day one.
On His Time As Mayor
Maggie Daley sums it up best: “It’s been a wonderful experience. We are so grateful to the people of Chicago.” And, regarding her hubby, the honorable mayor, she shares, “I’ve been very proud of what he’s accomplished as mayor.”