Rahm Emanuel was sworn in as mayor of Chicago Monday, delivering familiar promises of change and yes, we can, as part of his inaugural address.
Today, more than any other time in our history, more than any other place in our country, the city of Chicago is ready for change, Emanuel said at the start of the address. As your new mayor, it is an honor to fight for the change we need and a privilege to lead the city that we love.
Emanuel takes over the reins of the nation's third-largest city from Richard J. Daley and his son Richard M. Daley, who, together, held the title of Chicago mayor for 43 years combined; he also inherits a city that faces a budget shortfall in excess of $ 1 billion, a flailing school system in which half the students graduate, and an economy with high employment and falling home values.
So when Emanuel said, we have much to do, he wasn't joking.
Change, he said, is essential, For all the parents who deserve a school system that expects every student to earn a diploma; for all the neighbors who deserve to walk home on safer streets; for all the taxpayers who deserve a city government that is more effective and costs less; and for all the people in the hardest-working city in America who deserve a strong economy so they can find jobs or create jobs - this is your day.
Born in Chicago, Emanuel has worked for Mayor Richard M. Daley and then Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Bill Clinton. Before becoming President Barack Obama's chief of staff in 2008, Emanuel served as congressman for Chicago's North Side for three terms.
Now, his priorities will focus on changing the qualities of Chicago's schools, making the streets safer, putting Chicago's financial house in order, and making the Windy City a place where businesses can start and thrive.
These are the fundamental challenges confronting our city. If we can get these things right, nothing can stop Chicago. And people will come to see a city on the move, Emanuel said. I believe in our city. I believe in our city because I know who we are and what we're made of - the pride of every ethnic, religious, and economic background, and nearly three million strong.