CHICAGO — In a surprise move Tuesday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that he will not seek re-election in 2019.
Emanuel said in a statement released by his office that being mayor “has been the job of a lifetime, but it is not a job for a lifetime.” The Chicago Tribune says he had already raised more than $10 million for another run for a four-year term.
Emanuel, 58, was a Democratic congressman and chief of staff to President Barack Obama before becoming mayor in 2011. He followed Richard M. Daley, who was mayor for more than 20 years. His won a second term in a 2015 runoff.
His surprise announcement comes the day before the start of one of the biggest police-shooting trials in the history of Chicago — the murder trial of police officer Jason Van Dyke. The release of a dashcam video two years ago of the white officer shooting black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times in 2014 drew the sharpest criticism of Emanuel in his two terms as mayor.
Many questioned whether his office delayed releasing the video to lessen political damage on Emanuel. The trial is expected to bring added scrutiny of how the city, and Emanuel, dealt with the case.
When Chicago’s former Mayor Richard M. Daley announced he would not seek re-election, he also did so in a surprise fashion on the Tuesday after Labor Day, on September 7, 2010. Rahm Emanuel entered the mayoral race the following October.
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Former President Barack Obama released the following statement Tuesday:
- As a mayor, a congressman, and my first White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel has been a tireless and brilliant public servant. His work to improve our schools is paying dividends by helping our teachers and students achieve faster academic improvement than students in 96 percent of America’s school districts. The announcement to establish universal pre-K in Chicago, on top of universal kindergarten, will give all our kids the best possible start. And his implementation of debt-free community college will help prepare all our young people for the new economy. With record job growth and record employment over his terms in office, Chicago is better and stronger for his leadership, and I was a better President for his wise counsel at a particularly perilous time for our country. I’ve been blessed to call Rahm my friend. Whatever he chooses to do next, I know he’ll continue to make a positive difference, just as he has throughout his career in public service. And Michelle and I wish Rahm and Amy all the best as they consider this next phase in their lives.
Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, said in a statement:
- Rahm’s record of public service spans Congress, the White House, and the fifth floor of City Hall in Chicago. I have worked closely with him at every level of his public career. I always knew a call from Rahm was an invitation to join him in a bold, ambitious effort to make life better for those he served. It has been my honor to join him in these great ventures. Rahm has left his mark and I wish him and Amy the best in the days ahead.
House Speaker Michael J. Madigan released the following statement Tuesday:
- I want to thank Rahm Emanuel for his service to our city as a member of Congress, as chief of staff to President Obama, and most notably as our mayor. Mayor Emanuel offered steady leadership through difficult times. His efforts to balance the budget, stabilize pensions, and make tough decisions consistently reflected his commitment to do what was best for the future of our city, not what was easy. As Chicago continues to move forward and grow as an international city, we will remain grateful for Mayor Emanuel’s leadership.
WATCH: Anti-violence activists react to Emanuel’s announcement
Emanuel has been the target of demonstrators repeatedly throughout his time at City Hall.
Statistically, the murder rate is down this year compared to last year. According to Chicago police, there have been 365 people killed in the city this year.
The Rev. Michael Pfleger said the focus on the prevalence of crime and Economic investment and opportunity or lack thereof is going to take center/ He said he is somewhat surprised Emmanuel is not seeking reelection, but not entirely.
“We have to make it clear that no matter who’s running, the agenda does not change,” Pfleger said. “The slate may change, but not the agenda. It’s about who’s going to come in and say, ‘I’m going to make a difference on the South and West Sides.’”
WATCH: Chicago Teachers Union responds to Emanuel announcement
Emanuel leaves quite a legacy in the city, both good and bad. He spearheaded several major projects, some finished, others not.
The River Walk was a project the mayor pushed for, and it’s considered a success to some. But the past seven years haven’t always been met with praise.
The Chicago teachers strike in 2012 was a defining moment of Emanuel`s first term. The Chicago Teachers Union issued the following statement:
“Our union takes credit for Rahm Emanuel`s decision not to run for re-election, but it was Karen and her fearless leadership and love for the people of this city that we think made this possible. She stood up to that mayor when he had a huge amount of momentum and before anyone stood up and said, ‘The emperor has no clothes.’”