With a tear in his eye, Mayor Richard M. Daley announced today that he will not seek a seventh term as Mayor of Chicago. As he said it himself in his surprise announcement that is now stunning the political world:
"Today I'm announcing that I will not seek a seventh term as mayor of the city of Chicago. Simply put, it's time. It's time for me, it's time for Chicago to move on. Improving Chicago has been the ongoing work of my life. I love every minute of it. There has been no greater privilege or honor than serving as your mayor, working alongside seasoned professionals, incredibly committed business and community leaders and some of the most dedicated public employees you ever expect. I've had the opportunity to expand, to build, to create, unite and compromise for the betterment of Chicago. I am deeply grateful to the people of this great city, more grateful than I can fully express. I have given it my all. I have done the best."
And with that, 38 years as a public servant and 21 years as Mayor of Chicago will be coming to a historic Daley-filled end. The upshot? The City is in terrible shape and so now we are left with a big mess and an avalanche of unexpected questions.
Names like Rahm Emanuel, Luis Gutierrez, Lisa Madigan, Cook County Assessor James Houlihan, former Senate candidate Gery Chico, independents like Forrest Claypool and more Chicago alderman than can fill a City Council Chamber are swirling around, leading to more questions: Is Rahm "Deadfish" Emanuel really serious about running? Or is it all national hype? Is another Daley brother - Bill or John - looking to fill the Daley vacancy...legacy? If not, is this the end of the Democrat machine? Can any be expected to continue to hold together what Mayor Richard M. Daley has been able to maintain for 21 years? Will the GOP finally be able to lasso some truly charismatic (read likeable) candidates for Mayor with tangible ideas for reform that can override the natural Chicago-wide propensity to vote Democrat and not be stuck in the wasteland for another 20 years? And will any candidates be better than what we've had up until now?
In other words, is this city now a lit powder keg explosion of bankrupt finances, racial tensions, crime, and worse waiting to happen? The answer is, unfortunately, we shall have to wait and see.