End of a father-son run city, a new beginning

By Michael Ranieri

Rumors continue to circulate throughout the city regarding who will step up as the next mayor of Chicago. Since 1955, the Daley family has almost exclusively held the mayor’s office, but the time for change is beckoning.

Mayor Richard M. Daley announced on Sept. 7 he will not run for re-election in 2011, after serving as mayor since 1989. Politicians around Chicago have yet to announce bids for election, but the list of potential candidates is long, including aldermen and state representatives, among others.

Since 1972—while the first Daley, Richard J., was serving as mayor—at least 80 elected public servants have been convicted of some form of malfeasance. While former Governor. Rod Blagojevich was only convicted of one of 24 counts, many Chicagoans yearn for a fresh start.

“The amount of corruption that has occurred in this city is an embarrassment, and if I decide to run [for mayor] it will not be tolerated,” said Alderman Bob Fioretti (2nd Ward). “For all practical purposes, we need an administration that sets a high ethical tone.”

Although Fioretti hasn’t set anything in stone, his name has been on many lists as a possible contender.

“I’m meeting with a lot of people who have urged me to run … and I am taking their counsel, their advice,” Fioretti said. “I’m going to be making a decision in the next few weeks.”

WLS-AM’s Bill Cameron has been covering Chicago’s list of mayors since the first Daley. A self-proclaimed skeptic, Cameron said he doesn’t believe there are many solutions to Chicago’s corruption problem.

“I think we’re catching about 2 to 3 percent of the crooks, and that’s only because the other 97 to 98 percent see this and say, ‘These guys are getting away with it, so why can’t I?’” Cameron said.

He said Chicago needs two things: a good voter turnout and “honest people running.”

Cameron said he has followed the long line of Chicago corruption trials “all the way back to [former Gov.] Otto Kerner, and nothing seems to change—they just keep stealing.”

Don Rose, an independent political consultant, said he believes the battlefield is unpredictable now, but has some ideas as to what Chicago’s mayor needs to be.

“We need someone who will do well running the city, whether they’re big names or not,” Rose said. “There’s probably a half-dozen people who will not run who might make good mayors, ranging from businessmen to academics to former politicians. These people have all run smaller operations. There is no school for learning how to be mayor.”

If he does decide to run for the open position, Fioretti said he thinks he has what it takes.

Fioretti is aware of the possible opposition, which ranges from big-time names like White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, to the lesser-known, which include names like former school chief Gery Chico and Rep. Michael Quigley.

“I think that by getting the message out that we’re going to clean up government, find jobs, educational opportunities, we’re going to take back our streets,” Fioretti said. “I’ve defined the issues already for the candidates. The question is, what’s their vision for the future?”