Richard M. Daley (pictured), Chicago’s mayor since 1989, surprised the city by announcing Tuesday he won’t seek reelection in 2011 — and political observers say the Windy City’s first openly gay alderman is a potential successor.
Daley, 68, made his announcement at a brief press conference, saying, “This is a personal decision, no more, no less,” and that it’s time for both him and the city to move on, the Chicago Tribune reports. Daley, a Democrat and son of longtime mayor Richard J. Daley, has been reelected easily in every race since taking office, but his popularity has declined recently due to the city’s budget problems and a surge in crime, the paper noted. On the personal side, his wife, Maggie, is suffering from cancer.
Daley has had a generally good relationship with Chicago’s large gay population. In 2006 he was inducted into the city’s Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame as a “Friend of the Community.” His administration’s achievements include establishing Chicago’s Advisory Council on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues and Office of LGBT Health; instituting domestic-partner benefits for city employees; and adding gender identity to the municipal human rights ordinance. He has voiced personal support for marriage equality.
Restaurateur Tom Tunney, the first and only openly gay Chicago city council member, is reportedly among those interested in the mayor’s office. Tunney saidlast spring that he would consider a run, but only if Daley retired. Other potential contenders, according to the Tribune, include President Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel; Cook County sheriff Tom Dart; outgoing county assessor James Houlihan; former Chicago inspector general David Hoffman; and several other aldermen.