Rahm Emanuel Won’t Seek Re-Election As Chicago Mayor

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaks at a press conference
Joshua Lott / Getty Images

In a surprise announcement on Tuesday morning, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that he will not seek re-election, the Chicago Tribune reports. Mayor Emanuel held a press conference on Tuesday morning to make the announcement with his wife, Amy Rule, next to him, stating that the time had come.

“I’ve decided not to seek re-election. This has been the job of a lifetime, but it is not a job for a lifetime,” said Emanuel in the press conference.

The announcement is a stunning decision as Emanuel has been insisting for over a year that he would seek re-election and had already raised over $10 million for an election campaign for a third term, continuing his tradition of successful fundraising.

Despite that, the Chicago Tribune reports that there were rumors of the mayor not seeking his third term but those had been dismissed as just rumors, including by Emanuel himself. The Chicago Tribune cites an aide which said that the decision was only finally made on Monday.

Timing his announcement the week the Jason Van Dyke murder trial begins certainly draws attention to Emanuel, who drew criticism for his original handling of the incident when police officer Van Dyke shot Laquan McDonald 16 times in 2014.

In 2015, Emanuel used the court system to prevent the release of the police video with an argument that the investigation was still open. In November 2015. a judge ordered the release of the video, which was released the same day Van Dyke was charged with murder.

It was the darkest time of Emanuel’s time in office, with a federal civil rights investigation launched into the police department and the mayor’s office accused of a cover-up which led to calls for the mayor’s resignation as his approval ratings plummeted.

Despite that moment, Mayor Emanuel got through it and has seen an overhaul of the police department, which has included the use of body cameras and Tasers. That work is still in progress with Emanuel finalizing negotiations with the Illinois attorney general to give a federal judge the authority of reform of the police department.

Gun violence has been the marker of the Emanuel mayoral tenure with a recent spike in shootings drawing plenty of criticism, including from President Donald Trump.

But despite those setbacks, there have been plenty of accomplishments for Mayor Emanuel who raised taxes and fees to sure up the underfunded pension funds and gave more economic footing to the city which was struggling.

That was the note Emanuel chose to go out on, speaking about his economic record in his emotional announcement on Tuesday, taking the most pride in using that fiscal improvement to improve the education standards of the city.

“At the end of the day, what matters most in public life is four more years for our children not four more years for me,” said Emanuel. “It will fill my eyes with tears to leave a job I love and already my heart is full with gratitude. We’ve worked together. We’ve celebrated progress together. And we have grieved together.”