CHICAGO (CN) – Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel shocked the city Tuesday when he announced he will not seek re-election for a third term next year.
“As much as I love this job and will always love this city and its residents, I have decided not to seek re-election,” he said in prepared remarks.
“This has been the job of a lifetime, but it is not a job for a lifetime,” the mayor added, saying he and his wife were ready to start “a new chapter” together.
“Together, since May of 2011, through thick and thin, we tried to do right by our city’s future,” Emanuel continued. “No matter how difficult the path we never wavered or shrunk from our responsibilities. And I will never forget the honor it has been to serve alongside you the people of Chicago every step of the way.”
Emanuel’s relatively short tenure has not been without its ups and downs.
The police department came under fire for discrimination and brutality while the city’s street violence made national news, culminating in an investigation and scathing report by the U.S. Department of Justice. The city is currently working with the state to form a plan to reform the department.
The mayor controversially closed 50 public schools in 2013 and has done his share of sparring with the Chicago Public Schools teachers’ union.
He also raised property taxes, a risky political move but one that has helped to close the gaping deficit in the city’s budget. The estimated deficit for 2019 will be under $98 million, down from $636 million in 2012.
Taking over in 2011 when former Mayor Richard M. Daley decided to retire after 22 years, Emanuel snuck in a second term in 2015 after a rare runoff election with Cook County Board Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.
The Democrat started his career in politics fundraising for and later advising President Bill Clinton before winning a congressional seat left vacant by former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and serving as President Barack Obama’s chief of staff.
There are already plenty of candidates looking to replace Emanuel, including Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown and former Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, who stepped down from that position amid the scandal surrounding the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
No political heavyweights have entered the ring yet, although that may change after Emanuel’s announcement.
Chicago’s next mayoral election will be held Feb. 26, 2019.