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(Several months ago I reflected on a Daley-less city…):

An Open Letter to Richie Daley:

As the tenure of the longest termed mayor of our fine city inches closer to the end, I am overwhelmed by the negative comments and articles about Daley’s legacy. The majority seems to be focusing on the negative: “he spent too much time, money, and effort on the Olympics;” “Hired trucks, ahhh! Parking meter lease, eeek!” Instead, I would like to focus on the positive because it seems the Richie Daley I will remember is a stranger to many Chicagoans.

For 22 of my twenty-odd years of existence, I have lived in a city run by Daley. For as long as my memory goes back, Richard M. Daley has been in charge of my city, has been the face of my city, the only name I have ever had to read on highway signs as I arrive back in Chicago. The thought of his retirement, of losing not only a part of my identity but that of an entire city, is not an issue I have taken lightly. Upon hearing the news in September I was in shock, but because I feel as if I have come to know Richie after all these years, it is not a decision I question. My Richard M. Daley makes decisions based on the interests of Chicago and Chicagoans and, as such, I know I must accept this. Admittedly though, it has not been easy.

Everyday I walk around the city I see Richie in the lush foliage that laughs at the concrete jungle cliché. A casual ride down Lake Shore Drive in the summer is as close as one can get to the best of both worlds: towering skyscrapers reflecting a sun that is simultaneously being soaked up by beach-goers and the greenery Daley demanded be plant.

Daley has made Chicago a destination city, a city that now competes with the (subpar) likes of New York and Los Angeles. He has been consistently vocal in supporting Chicago traditions, from chairs saving shoveled out parking spots to sticking by his beloved south side sports team. You’ll never see Richie Daley at Wrigley Field in an attempt to appease voters from all parts of the city, and as much as it pains me that we don’t root for the same team, I have nothing but respect for that choice. If you wish to have these intricacies, however minor, erased, perhaps a cookie-cutter suburb is best suited for you. For me? I’ll take the City of Chicago with all its unique headaches over Anywhere, USA any day.

A few months ago while out of the country and checking email, I opened a message from my brother updating me of the goings on city-side. Tucked between Bears updates and Cubs trade rumors I read “Richie decided he will run again.” My heart stopped. I had to get back to Chicago, to get on the next flight, to revel in this fantastic news with fellow Chicagoans, to toast his decision with those who were surely as excited as me, to find out the details for his choice—was Maggie doing better? Did he realize we couldn’t survive without him?

I read on. “Just joking.” My heart dropped as quickly as it had stopped just seconds earlier. And for the first time, since his announcement in September, I felt immense loss. 4000 miles away from Chicago I finally realized the impact of a Daley-less city. What was Chicago going to become? Would my coveted interests in tradition be upheld? Would my new leader care more about Chicago than approval ratings?

I flew back to Chicago several days later, realizing this was perhaps the last time I would be flying home.

So Richie, this is thank you and goodbye. You have given me a city to love and be proud of in both good times and bad. For at least one person, your positive impact on the city will not be clouded by the mistakes that any two-decade-plus-career could incur. My love to you and your family, and best wishes for the future.


Someone who loves Chicago as much as you do

Things I Live For: See above

Quote of the Day: “I’ve given it my all. I’ve done my best. Now, I’m ready with my family to begin the next phase of our lives.” –Richard M. Daley

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