Politicians, public figures react to Emanuel’s decision not to run again
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A Who’s Who of current and former elected officials, as well as political hopefuls and public figures are reacting to the news that Mayor Rahm Emanuel won’t be seeking re-election.
Former President Barack Obama:
“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.”
Former President Bill Clinton:
“From the earliest days of my presidential campaign over a quarter-century ago, through my time in the White House; his service in Congress; as Chief of Staff to President Obama; and for eight vital years as Mayor, Rahm Emanuel has served with vision, purpose, principle, and impact.
I believe he succeeded because he cares about people, policy, and politics. Even people who disagree with him strongly on some issues understand that.
Rahm keeps score the right way: by the number of lives changed for the better—the number of children getting pre-kindergarten; the number of young people going to community college tuition-free; and the number of new jobs and new businesses. He is proof that if you focus on the trend lines, not just the headlines, a public leader can make a lasting positive difference.
Decades from now, the children who are starting pre-k today thanks to Rahm will be smarter, stronger, and better able to succeed in a rapidly chaining world. They will take their turn leading the city and our nation. That is truly an enduring legacy.
He has decided to step aside after two exciting and exhausting terms and an undefeated record in elections. As George Washington taught us, voluntarily leaving office can be an act of service that strengthens our democracy.
As everyone knows, Hillary and I love Chicago for many reasons. It is a world-class city, with wonderfully diverse people, amazing strengths, and like all big cities, compelling challenges. Chicagoans were wise to pick Rahm Emanuel when they did. Now they must choose wisely again. Someone to continue addressing the challenges, maintain the strengths, and bridge the divides.
Hillary and I treasure our friendship with Rahm and Amy. With Zach, Leah, and Ilana, I know they will write a new chapter in their rich, eventful life of service.”
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle:
“I was surprised by Mayor Emanuel’s announcement this morning that he has decided not to seek re-election. I want to thank him for leading our city for the past eight years and also for his service to the nation –his time in Congress and as Chief of Staff to President Obama. Being mayor of the nation’s third-largest city is extraordinarily difficult and all-consuming. I wish him and Amy well in their future endeavors.”
Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan:
“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.”
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL:
“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.”
U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, D-IL (5th):
“Rahm Emanuel’s commitment to public service—and the great people of Chicago—is undeniable. I thank him for his tenacity and compassion, and I wish him and Amy all the best in their next endeavors. We should all take this opportunity and the days ahead to reflect on what the city of Chicago needs moving forward to become safer, stronger, and more secure.”
Mayoral candidate Paul Vallas:
“I have not been running against Rahm Emanuel but rather to offer fresh and realistic ideas for the future of Chicago. From the outset of my campaign in April, I have been detailing with great specificity how I will address the unprecedented and complex problems facing Chicago. And I will continue to do so on issues including rebuilding Chicago’s forgotten communities on the South and West Sides, making Chicago safer for all its citizens and repairing the City’s tattered finances. As the only candidate with a successful track record of running multi-billion government agencies, I am the only candidate in this race who will be ready from day one to get Chicago on a new and more successful path.”
Mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot:
“I would first like to acknowledge Mayor Emanuel for his decision today to step aside. Eight years ago, he stepped up to take a difficult job at a difficult time in our city, and that is something I commend him for. Now, it is time to turn the page.
“This is undeniably big news, but it doesn’t change what we’re fighting for, and it doesn’t change the needs of people all across our city. We still live in a city where violence is far too prevalent, as we’ve seen in tragic weekend statistics. We still live in a city where many live in poverty and struggle with chronic unemployment. We still live in a city where children must travel long distances each morning in hopes of a decent education. The ‘us versus them’ mentality continues to divide our communities, and we still need a leader to unite our city.
“Everywhere we go, Chicagoans let us know they need a government that sees them, that listens to them, and that invests in their communities. We need to guarantee quality public schools in every neighborhood, guarantee public safety in every neighborhood, and bring the opportunity and security Chicago families need.
“I am the only candidate who is ready to take on these tough challenges and bring true reform. I am the only candidate who is running a city-wide campaign, truly engaging with people in every neighborhood, and putting forth a bold, progressive vision that includes the needs and hopes of people across Chicago. I look forward to continuing to build momentum in the months ahead.”
Mayoral candidate Willie Wilson:
“We are not at all surprised,” said Willie Wilson’s campaign spokesman Scott Winslow. “We were expecting this.”
“His administration has become an abject failure for a huge part of Chicago.”
Mayoral candidate Ja’Mal Green:
Green said he was “a little excited, a little disappointed” by Emanuel’s announcement.
“The Mayor’s decision not to seek reelection is a testament to the will of the people of Chicago who clearly reject his leadership — or in the case of people in many of our most vulnerable communities, lack of leadership. Chicagoans are demanding a new, visionary Mayor with the ideas, solutions, experience and commitment to move our city in a better direction.
Moreover, the people of Chicago don’t want more of the same. They are not looking for anyone that has been tied to the current administration or its mismanagement of important public resources from our schools to our police department.
Our campaign represents the future of Chicago. We are committed to transformative change and have the enthusiasm, energy, and ideas to unite the city behind our vision. We will work hard to share this vision on every side of the city as we push to create a city that truly reflects the values of shared equity, justice and shared progress where all communities thrive.”
Mayoral candidate Garry McCarthy:
Former Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy said he was “pleased to know that finally Chicago is going to get the new leadership that it deserves.”
“We need new leadership and we’re going to get it and it’s obvious that the people of Chicago are tired of bullying politics and pay-to-play and failed leadership,” McCarthy said.
Mayoral candidate Dorothy Brown:
The clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County beamed, saying “I want to thank Mayor Rahm Emanuel for a great birthday present,” noting her birthday was Tuesday.
She thanked Emanuel for the “selfless job” of public service and then said there “were so many controversies during this mayor’s tenure,” including several scandals at Chicago Public Schools and “hiding the Laquan McDonald (video) tape for so long.”
She said his dropping out won’t affect her campaign strategy and she said she has little to fear from anyone who decides to now jump into the race for mayor.
“If you were not in this race yesterday, then you did not demonstrate you have real concerns for the citizens of Chicago,” Brown said, adding that she would welcome Emanuel’s endorsement. “So Johnny come latelys I don’t respect.”
Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker:
“Mayor Emanuel has dedicated his life to public service and I want to thank him for his commitment to Chicago and to the nation. I also want to express my gratitude for his work expanding universal Pre-K, a priority that is personally important to me. Every elected official makes personal sacrifice to do this work and Mayor Emanuel honored the legacy of his family with his service to our city and our state. Illinois faces real challenges, and should I be elected governor, I look forward to working with the mayor in his final months in office and with new leadership to move our state forward.”
Chance the Rapper:
“Also we need a new mayor, but not just anybody. We gotta start to come together around a candidate that cares about equity in regards to education, job development and healthcare in one of the most segregated cities in the country.”
Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza:
“Mayor Emanuel and I had some lively arguments when I first took office as City Clerk. But we respected each other’s work ethic and were united by our mutual love for the City and the people of Chicago. He made tough choices that needed to be made and I admire his conviction and force of will that drove him to see many projects through for the good of Chicago. Knowing that there’s still so much more work to do and so many critical challenges that would require a 100% focus, his decision to not seek re-election means that Mayor Emanuel is putting the City before himself. I admire him for that. As Rahm said, “It has been the job of a lifetime, but it is not a job for a lifetime.” I thank Rahm for his dedicated service to Chicago as its mayor and I hope we find a worthy successor.”
Black Lives Matter:
Kofi Ademola, who spoke for the Movement for Black Lives, which includes Black Lives Matter, called Emanuel’s announcement a “great victory,” for grassroots organizers that also pushed to make sure former Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez was not re-elected and former Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy was fired.
“His neoliberal politics destroyed the public good and commonwealth and took all voice and control away from the people,” Ademola said. “There’s been a consistent outcry and momentum to stop his ‘profit over people’ mantra.”
Ademola said the closure of schools, mental health clinics and the lack of police accountability and an elected school board brought people from all over the city together against the mayor. Now the hope is to get “somebody in there who will be progressive — we have a lot of educating to do with the public on who is in the field.”
Political consultant Delmarie Cobb:
Delmarie Cobb, a press secretary for 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, said she was “delighted” by the news. By not throwing his hat into the race, Cobb said less time will be focused on Emanuel’s tenure as mayor and more on the issues..
“He was a public relations mayor and he never had a vision for the entire city,” Cobb said.
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