Not long after word spread about the death of Chicago’s first and only female mayor, the condolences from officeholders and others began pouring in.
“With the passing of Mayor Jane Byrne, the City of Chicago has lost a great trailblazer,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement issued Friday morning.
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“Mayor Byrne was a Chicago icon who lived a remarkable life of service to our city. From signing the first ordinance to get handguns off of our streets, to bringing more transparency to the City’s budget, to creating the Taste of Chicago, Mayor Byrne leaves a large and lasting legacy. And as the first woman to serve as Mayor, she will always have a special place in our history,” Emanuel said.
“I was deeply honored that she attended my inauguration, and, in turn, it was my privilege to sign our City’s ordinance officially dedicating the plaza surrounding our iconic Water Tower in her honor.
“The thoughts and prayers of the people of Chicago are with her daughter Kathy and her many friends at this difficult time.”
From former Mayor Richard M. Daley:
“Mayor Jane Byrne was a woman of strength, courage and commitment. She was a pioneer in public service whose impact on this city will remain for years to come. On behalf of the entire Daley family, I extend my deepest condolences to the Byrne family.”
Former Ald. Martin Oberman, now chaiman of the board at Metra, served on the council during Byrne’s time as mayor. Hecalled her”an epic figure in Chicago policy history…. She and I had our differences but she left some significant marks —some positive, some not so.”
Gov. Pat Quinn said Byrne “leaves a legacy of tireless serviceto Chicago that will never be forgotten.”
The governor’s written statement continued:
“Her work on behalf of the city’s children and underserved communities has meant thousands of Chicago citizens are better off today because of Jane’s heartfelt dedication.
“The city’s first and only female mayor, Jane Byrne was a barrier breaker and a role model for countless women who had stared too long through the glass ceiling.
“She brought transparency to the city budget process, was Chicago’s first mayor to march in the Gay Pride Parade and was the nation’s first big-city mayor to successfully enact a ban on handguns.
“Renaming the Circle Interchange in honor of the former mayor has rightfully placed Jane Byrne among the city’s iconic leaders.
“Jane Byrne was a fearless trailblazer who has made our state a better place. She will be missed. Our thoughts are with her daughter Kathy, grandson William and their entire family today.”
Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner also issued a statement.
“I’m saddened to learn of the death of Mayor Byrne. She was a pioneer and will be missed by all. The City of Chicago owes her a huge debt of gratitude. My thoughts and prayers are with her daughter, Kathy, and her family.”
From City Clerk Susana A. Mendoza:
“Mayor Byrne was a remarkable and unique leader. As the first woman elected Mayor, she blazed a trail in Chicago politics that so many of us have followed. She left an amazing legacy for the people of our City.
“On a personal level, Mayor Byrne’s very public and outspoken positions on major issues such as affordable housing, gun control and crime were an inspiration to me as a young girl.
“We are all saddened today and our thoughts and prayers go out to her daughter Kathy, her grandson, the Byrne family and her many friends.”
Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. tweeted:
“Jane Byrne was a consumer advocate who “broke the mold” of the male-dominated “machine”. She was tough & tender. RIP”
And Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle also took to Twitter to honor Byrne:
“As the first and only woman elected Mayor of Chicago, Jane was truly a pioneer and an inspiration to all women in public service. …I’m a history teacher by profession, and I know that Jane Byrne will have a significant place in this history of our great City.”
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