Mayor Richard Daley says he will not run for re-election in 2011, saying it's "time for me, it's time for Chicago to move on.""The truth is I have been thinking about this for the past several months," Daley said at a City Hall news conference. "In the end this is a personal decision, no more, no less."
His wife Maggie stood by his side with the help of a crutch, smiling broadly as the mayor continued: "I have always known that people want you to work hard for them. Clearly, they won't always agree with you. Obviously, they don't like it when you make a mistake. But at all times, they expect you to lead, to make difficult decisions, rooted in what's right for them.
"For 21 years, that's what I've tried to do," he said. "But today, I am announcing that I will not seek a 7th term as mayor of the city of Chicago."Simply put, it's time," said Daley, 68. "Time for me, it's time for Chicago to move on." The mayor said that "improving Chicago has been the ongoing work of my life and I have loved 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 will ever expect, I have had the opportunity to expand, to build, to create, unite and compromise for the betterment of Chicago."
Daley spoke for less than five minutes and took no questions.His announcement comes as he faces a record $655 million budget shortfall.
Last month, the mayor said he's looking at hiring private firms to take over more city functions, including potentially running the Taste of Chicago, as a way to cut costs.
Daley limited his options this time around after raising property taxes in 2007, selling off parking meters and raising fees in 2008 and spending reserves last year. The mayor reiterated late last month that he won't be increasing taxes or fees or auctioning off more city assets.
The mayor joins at least a half-dozen aldermen already have said they won't seek re-election next year.
His decision also comes as Maggie continues to battle cancer. In March, she underwent surgery to strengthen a leg damaged by cancer and the resulting treatment.
The city's first lady has been battling metastatic breast cancer since 2002. In December, the mayor announced his wife would use a wheelchair to get around while undergoing radiation treatment for a cancerous bone tumor on her right leg.
Daley's decision sets off a major power scramble following more than 20 years of stifled political ambitions in city politics.
Daley was first elected mayor in 1989 following a failed bid in 1983. The mayor won re-election every four years since then, always with little to no opposition.
But Daley's public approval rating had dipped recently, with a Tribune poll earlier this summer showing that more than half of Chicago voters said they don't want to see him re-elected.
The poll found only 37 percent of city voters approve of the job Daley is doing as mayor, compared with 47 percent who disapprove. Moreover, a record-low 31 percent said they want to see Daley re-elected, compared with 53 percent who don't want him to win another term.
The mayor's administration has been buffeted by a spate of summer violence, a weak economy and a high-profile failure to land the 2016 Olympics. Dissatisfaction abounds, the survey found, over Daley's handling of the crime problem, his efforts to rein in government corruption and his backing of a controversial long-term parking meter system lease.
A few aldermen are shopping themselves around as potential candidates, and some politicians with broader political bases have been glad to see their names tossed into the ring -- but none had shown a willingness to challenge Daley.
Among aldermen discussed as potential mayoral candidates are Robert Fioretti, 2nd; Sandi Jackson, 7th; Thomas Allen, 38th; Scott Waguespack, 32nd; Brendan Reilly, 42nd; and Thomas Tunney, 44th.
Earlier this year, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel voiced his mayoral ambitions. But the former North Side congressman quickly added that he wouldn't take on Daley, for whom he served as a strategist and fundraiser in the mayor's first winning bid. Likewise, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said he won't run for mayor unless the office is open.
Outgoing Cook County Assessor James Houlihan, by contrast, was considered a potential candidate whether or not Daley runs again. Former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman also has been mentioned, but he just lost a grueling Democratic U.S. Senate primary.Source