CHICAGO (CBS) — Within minutes of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s stunning announcement he would not seek a third term in office, reactions came pouring in from allies and opponents alike, as the political world began to shift under their feet.
“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 Barack Obama said.
Emanuel was Obama’s first chief of staff, before stepping down in 2010 to run for mayor in Chicago, when then-Mayor Richard M. Daley made his own surprise announcement that he would not seek a seventh term.
With 11 candidates already lined up to run for mayor in 2019, the race is now wide open, and even more candidates could throw their hats in the ring. Some of those candidates already have weighed in on Emanuel’s decision, as have other notable Chicago politicians. You can read their reactions below:
Statement from former President 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.
Statement from former President Bill Clinton, for whom Emanuel served as chief strategist:
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.
Statement from former Chicago Police Board President Lori Lightfoot, a candidate for mayor:
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.
Statement from former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, a candidate for mayor:
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.
Statement from community activist Ja’Mal Green, a candidate for mayor:
This is a win for the activists and organizers who hit the streets every day. Thousands of people hit the streets and hundreds of people caught charges.
It was so many people fighting against this establishment for the last few years, and we succeeded. He can see that he cannot win with no amount of money. This is a win for the city of Chicago. This is a win for all residents because everybody wanted change and we got that.
Statement from former Chicago Public Schools principal Troy LaRaviere:
Now that Rahm Emanuel has announced that he will not seek re-election for a third term, the people of the City of Chicago have a great opportunity to set the direction we want for the city. For too long in this city we have had entrenched interests who work with politicians to enrich themselves at the expense of regular people. In 2019 we can finally elect our mayor, not their mayor.
City Hall is not supposed to serve the interests of the 1%: the corporations, real estate developers, banks, and downtown law firms who use city government to engage in legalized theft of our tax dollars. They use City Hall to steal from our schools, exploit south and west side neighborhoods, and pilfer our tax dollars.
Emanuel’s decision not to run for a third term will mean nothing if Chicago’s allows the 1% to pull the wool over our eyes again by putting their money behind the campaign of a candidate who will say all the right things but serve their greed in the end. Today more than ever it is important to ask one simple question of every candidate: Where does your campaign money come from? My campaign does not take contributions from big corporations who want contracts with the city or the school district, so when I am elected mayor, the only people I’m going to owe are the people who I’m sworn to serve.
In 2019, we can finally vote for exceptional schools in every neighborhood. We can vote for safe communities in every neighborhood, not just some. And we can increase job opportunities that pay good wages and are accessible to those who want to work.
Statement from 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.
Statement from 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.
Statement from U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin:
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.
Statement from Ald. Edward Burke (14th), the longest-serving member of the City Council:
Like so many Chicagoans, I was truly surprised to learn of Mayor Emanuel’s decision not to seek re-election. But I wish to take this opportunity to commend the Mayor on his earnest efforts on so many fronts, for taking steps to stabilize the City’s pension funds, putting more police officers on the streets, and markedly improving graduation rates of the Chicago Public Schools.
Throughout his tenure in office he has sought to unify our City with a zeal that was as encompassing as it was passionate.
Mayor Emanuel fought hard to move our City forward. And long after he leaves office, he will be remembered as a leader who exemplified a profound sense of decency and who had the courage to make difficult choices on behalf of all Chicagoans.
Statement from Rev. Jesse Jackson:
While we applaud Mayor Emanuel’s contributions to the city, Chicago’s unmet needs and unfinished business must be addressed,” Rev. Jackson said. “The unfinished business of too much violence, of the impact of 50 closed public schools, shuttered mental health clinics and the lack of manufacturing jobs that have left behind devastating zones of poverty and despair. Those who seek to replace the mayor must put forward an urban agenda to close the resource distribution/ opportunity gap and make Chicago one city for all.