Mayoral Endorsement: Rahm Emanuel for Mayor of Chicago

By Editorial Board

The Columbia Chronicle Editorial Board endorses Rahm Emanuel for a second term as mayor of Chicago.

The many difficult and often contentious decisions Emanuel made during his four-year tenure as mayor were meticulously picked apart by Chicagoans, aldermen, critics and even the Chronicle staff, but Emanuel is the best choice for the city of Chicago. 

It is easy during a politician’s term to see all of the bad in what they do, but when the time comes to elect leaders, the tables turn and it becomes time to recognize progress and accomplishments that were previously overlooked or overshadowed. 

Emanuel’s achievements vary from education to tourism, and from infrastructure to economics. 

Emanuel’s administration successfully extended school days and school years for Chicago public schools while pushing academic programs that have encouraged and produced higher rates of attendance, retention and graduation. Emanuel also made the incredibly tough call of shuttering 49 public schools. Although the school closings remain a sore spot for Emanuel and his many critics, it was a decision that needed to be made due to underused facilities that were not successfully serving students. 

During Emanuel’s term, tourism numbers rose from 40 million in 2011 to 50 million in 2014 with the help of Choose Chicago—Emanuel’s successful aggregation of Chicago’s online tourism hubs. His continued efforts have transformed the city into one of the top tourist destinations in the country. Emanuel has funneled funds into the city’s arts and culture programs. His support of the city’s many music and food festivals—Taste of Chicago was once again made profitable thanks to Emanuel’s efforts—only continue to make Chicago a top place to live, work and visit.

Chicago’s infrastructure has only grown and flourished under Emanuel’s leadership. The successful completion of the Red Line renovations far surpassed anyone’s expectations. The project—which many expected to take months and far exceed the allotted budget—was finished on time and on budget. Chicago’s successful integration and deployment of the Divvy bicycles program launched the city into the forefront of transportation alternatives. The Chicago Transit Authority has undergone an impressive overhaul from new fleets of buses and upgraded rail cars to the rocky but necessary rollout of Ventra. 

Emanuel and his administration’s efforts have brought thousands of jobs and opportunities to the people of Chicago. Emanuel cleared the way for many small businesses hoping to grow in Chicago by cutting out bureaucratic obstacles. Condensing and simplifying business licenses and pulling back the employee head tax have also been smart moves in improving the climate for new businesses and start-ups. Emanuel’s proposed minimum wage of $13 also shows an investment in the people of Chicago and their well-being.

Of course, Emanuel and his political moves are not without flaws. His focus often strays from what Chicagoans actually need to what Emanuel thinks they need—the stubbornness with which he continues to push for more tourist-friendly locations speaks to a lack of connection he has with his citizens. When Emanuel fights for parks, museums and libraries over much-needed mental health clinics, hospitals and continued anti-violence programs, his priorities come into question. This is certainly an issue he needs to address should he be reelected. 

Emanuel may not be the man Chicagoans want for the job, but at this time, he is the most qualified and experienced candidate. Emanuel will have to answer for many of the questionable decisions he has made for the city over the last four years, but he has proven to be more than capable of weathering those storms.