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Mayor Daley’s Bucket List: Ten Suggestions for How to Use the Remainder of His Term

EDITOR’S NOTE: On September 7th, Mayor Richard Daley announced in a brief news conference at City Hall that he will not seek re-election in 2011. The story below appears in our current issue.

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Mayor DaleyLast fall, after Chicago’s bid to host the 2016 Olympics went south (all the way to Rio), reporters asked Mayor Richard M. Daley if he would seek a seventh term. “I don’t know why you already put me in the grave,” he replied.

Winning an election is never a foregone conclusion, not even if your name is Daley, and the mayor’s current approval ratings—his lowest ever—don’t promise a cakewalk.

He is expected to announce his intentions soon (the primary is February 22nd). There are a few whispers that he won’t run—that he is content to eclipse his father’s record tenure of 21 years as Chicago mayor, a milestone he’ll reach in December, and that he worries about his wife, Maggie, whose health has suffered since she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002.

But if Daley runs and wins in 2011—and the odds are he’ll do both—it would likely be his last term (he’d be 73 at the end of it, in 2015). If so, he could indulge in that rarest of political gifts: the freedom to make difficult, even unpopular, decisions for the long-term good of the city, without concern for how he’d weather the political fallout.

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