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Mayor Daley sits down with ABC7 Chicago

September 10, 2010 9:03:53 PM PDT
Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley talked with ABC7 about his past and his future Friday.

Earlier in the week the mayor, announced he would not seek re-election

"I'm not the only person that could be mayor. I'm not the only person who can get things gone," said Mayor Daley.

Watch the entire interview

Chicago's mayor for the past 21 years said the decision took root six months ago. Then at mid-summer, the realization had grown that the city he loves so much could still thrive under the leadership of another person.

"The next mayor will be better than me and I hope he is. And I'm going to do everything possible, if he or she wants me to, to make sure for them to be better than me," said Daley.

The 68-year-old grandfather insisted the decision had nothing to do with his wife Maggie's treatment for recurrent cancer.

"Every family has illnesses and you never make excuses that you because of illness do this or that in life," said Daley.

Richard M. Daley will leave office next spring. Between now and year's end, his administration must fashion a 2011 budget projected to have a $655 million deficit.

"If you look at the state conditions, if you look at local governments, it doesn't matter where you go, from Peoria to Waukegan to Chicago, all the way to Boston, New York, Los Angeles, this is real financial crisis," said Daley.

The mayor--who took nearly five weeks of furlough days last year-- assured that he would never use his 'lame duck' status to include any revenue generating tax increases to fill the deficit.

"I don't think people can pay the tax, I don't think they can pay tax, I don't think so," said Daley.

On his 37 percent approval rating in a midsummer Chicago Tribune survey:

"I didn't ever worry about polls. If I worried about polls I never would have done 90 percent of my things," said Daley.

But his opponents his 'things,' like the destruction of Meigs Field, the privatization of the parking meter system and other city assets, have rendered Daley politically vulnerable for the first time in decades.

Still, he says, his retirement decision was not at all driven by the possibility he might lose in 2011.

"I fear not elections. If you did, then you should get out of government," said Daley.

And the mayor's advice for his successor? Don't be afraid of what people think because running Chicago will not get any easier.

"I think the next mayor has to be able to make difficult decisions and they will be difficult," said Daley.

The mayor said he doesn't know if he'll write a book. If he does, he said it will be about government and not politics.


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