City envisions new mayor, old mayors named Daley

By Darryl Holliday

With the midterm election over, public discussion has shifted focus toward the mayoral race.

On Nov. 9, the Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St., hosted “Who’s the Boss?: Chicago’s Next Mayor,” a conversation exploring Chicago’s political landscape from the 1950s to the near future.

Moderated by Laura Washington, a Chicago Sun-Times columnist, the panel included Dawn Netsch, professor emeritus of law at Northwestern University and former Illinois Comptroller; political analyst Paul Green; and Lisbeth Leanos, president of the Mikva Challenge Alumni Board, a nonpartisan organization directed toward underserved Chicago youth. Panelists discussed the 43-year reign of the Daley family, as well as what residents may expect of their new mayor.

“No. 1: The mayor has to be a workaholic; this is not a part-time job. No. 2: The mayor has to be able to be tough. … No. 3: They have to be able to giggle; a good part of this job has to do with connecting with the people of Chicago,” Green said. “This mayor really had the giggle down perfect.”

Though his father, Richard J. Daley, is commonly known as one of the last big city bosses, Mayor Richard M. Daley is currently known, in many ways, for running the city itself.

Many residents wonder if Chicago needs or wants democracy, in the normal sense of the word.

“I have a great fear of the City Council ever having power in Chicago, because every time, historically speaking, [when] the City Council has had power, this city had gone down the tubes. … This city needs somebody who is in charge,” Green stressed.

Mayor Daley has had a hand in the operation of everything from public housing to the city’s public schools and overall public policy.

According to Netsch, the mayor deserves significant credit for establishing Chicago’s place in the world.

“The thing he will be most remembered for, and I think deservedly so, he helped to make this a very different city,” Netsch said. “We are now a first-class, global city. I don’t think there’s any question about that.”

Looking back on the city’s racial history, according to Netsch, much progress has been made since the “Beirut On the Lake” era, when racial tension threatened to tear the city apart.

Though Daley may have helped to relieve racial tension, Chicago remains one of the most segregated cities in the U.S.

According to Leanos, the coming election should be less about race and more about the issues.

She said students are concerned about jobs and the future of their education as they engage in the coming February elections.

“College students and alumni are talking about, ‘OK, I’m graduating from college but there are no jobs out there for me.’ So that’s a priority: jobs,” Leanos said.

“Second, what’s going to happen to the city?”

As far as who the next mayor will be, at this time there is no apparent heir to the Daley legacy. But, according to Green, one thing is certain: The candidate will have to connect with all 50 wards as a coalition builder.

With dozens of important issues looming many changes and challenges are in store for residents as problems are resolved and more

problems arise.

An economic morass, troubled school system and an officer-deficient police department, among many other issues, await the next mayor.

As the Nov. 22 deadline for mayoral candidacy approaches, many residents wonder where the upcoming candidates will stand on the issues that affect them.

While the Daley legacy comes to an eventual close, the future of Chicago is up for debate and a shift in direction.

What comes next is anyone’s guess.

“A lot of things can happen in the city of Chicago,” Leanos said.