Chicago Mayor Will Not Seek Re-Election
Two-term mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, announced on Tuesday that he will not seek re-election. He abruptly dropped his bid for a third term as mayor, stating instead that he wanted to begin a new chapter in his life.
Rahm Emanuel has spent 23 years in politics, making many personal sacrifices along the way. After months of discussions with his family and a long holiday weekend spent dropping off his third child at college, Emanuel held a surprise press conference at City Hall. At the meeting, he said, “This has been the job of a lifetime, but it is not a job for a lifetime.”
Emanuel began his political career in the Clinton administration, working as director of the finance committee in the 1992 presidential campaign and serving as assistant to the president for political affairs. Emanuel briefly left the public sector to work at an investment bank, returning only to run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives (a seat vacated by Rod Blagojevich). During his tenure in the House, Emanuel held two Democratic leadership positions. After the 2008 presidential election, President Barack Obama appointed Emanuel to serve as White House chief of staff. He resigned to run as a candidate in Chicago’s 2011 mayoral election.
Emanuel will step aside next May after two tumultuous terms in office that have included the largest round of school closings in the city’s history, a teacher strike, the corruption conviction of his onetime schools chief, rampant gun violence, a sex abuse scandal at Chicago Public Schools, record tax increases, and the Laquan McDonald police shooting that led to a federal investigation of Chicago Police Department corruption.
Since taking office in May of 2011, Chicago has paid $346 million in police misconduct settlements and judgments. Emanuel paid a large portion of these costs by taking out bonds, which must be paid back with interest. These interest fees add up to hundreds of millions of dollars, which the city will need to pay before ensuring there is funding for critical public services. When faced with a budget crunch, Emanuel closed mental health clinics and schools.
Emanuel also used the city’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) program as a slush fund to drain money from the city’s neighborhoods and schools in communities of color to funnel aid into tax subsidies for developers and corporations in richer, whiter parts of the city. Emanuel’s policies have left deep scars on the city’s neighborhoods and bank accounts, and the next mayor will be faced with a devastating budget crisis.