“It’s time,” Daley, 68, said at a City Hall news conference where he was surrounded by his wife, Maggie, and other family members. “It’s time for me. It’s time for Chicago to move on.”
The son of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley was first elected in 1989 and is serving his sixth term as the top executive of the third-largest U.S. city by population. The younger Daley’s tenure was marked by his takeover of the city’s school system, the demolition of much of its public housing and a failed bid to win the 2016 Summer Olympics.
“Improving Chicago has been the ongoing work of my life,” Daley said. “I loved every minute of it. There has been no greater privilege or honor than serving as your mayor.”
Emanuel, who served three terms in the U.S. House representing part of Chicago’s North Side before being picked by President Barack Obama for the White House job, has said he would be interested in the job if Daley didn’t run.
“That’s always been an aspiration of mine even when I was in the House of Representatives,” Emanuel, 50, said in an April interview on PBS television’s “Charlie Rose Show.” “If Mayor Daley doesn’t, one day I would like to run for mayor.”
Emanuel issued a statement saying: “While Mayor Daley surprised me today with his decision to not run for re-election, I have never been surprised by his leadership, dedication and tireless work on behalf of the city and the people of Chicago.”
Daley has faced challenges surrounding violence in the city, a weak economy and budget shortfalls.
Chicago is forecast to have a $654.7 million deficit in a $3.39 billion budget for 2011, according to a July 30 estimate from the city. Daley filled holes in the current $3.12 billion budget by transferring cash reserves from the earlier privatization of parking meters, garages and a tollway.
Speculation about whether he would run again intensified after last year’s failure to win the Summer Games.
More than half of Chicago voters said they didn’t want to see Daley re-elected, according to a Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV poll in July that also found that only 37 percent of city voters approved of the job he is doing.
Chicago radio stations immediately were buzzing with speculation about who else might step up to run for the job.
In a city where the first Mayor Daley served from 1955 until his death in 1976, the son will pass his father’s record for time in office late this year. His wife has been battling breast cancer for almost a decade.
“I’ve given it my all,” the mayor said. “I’ve done the best.”