Inaugural Address of Mayor Edward J. Kelly
April 9, 1943
This speech is recorded as it first appeared in print. Archaic spelling and misspellings in the original document have not been corrected.
Members of the Council: I think it is opportune at this time that I say a few words to the City Council. I have not prepared any formal speech but I do desire to offer a few observations, not because of any necessity of immediate action, but because as we start this new administration I think it is important that whatever I have on my mind should be open for your consideration.
This is a Council-governed city, and in this City Council we have at all times worked as Chicagoans with the good of the city in mind—as a nonpartisan organization. When a man becomes a member of this body it is his duty to forget the political party that he belongs to, realizing that his responsibility as a City Council member goes far beyond party lines in guarding the interest of his city, his state and his country. That is the way it has been in the past and I am confident that this same principle will continue during this new Administration.
The grueling campaign recently concluded is a thing of the past. Our job now, in my opinion, is to forget politics and work to win this war. And this City Council has. a very definite and important role to play in our nation’s war effort. In order to maintain high morale on the fighting fronts it is essential that we have high morale on the home front. And it is you members of the City Council—in your thinking and by your actions—who should be the leaders of this great City.
You men have been elected by the people because the people had confidence in you and in your ability. We believe that we have done a fairly good job during the last ten years in providing the people of Chicago with a good administration. And the people themselves have shown that they have the same opinion. There are many projects, many plans we now would like to carry through and policies we would like to continue.
We realize that in these war times to think of anything that is not a direct contribution to the war effort and coordinated with it is rather ridiculous and just so much lost motion. That has been, and will continue to be, our policy. We want to make certain that Chicago continues its fine record in control of juvenile delinquency. Chicago today has the lowest juvenile delinquency rate of any large city in the country. And we want to hold it that way. We want to cooperate with the police department and with those many civic organizations who are doing so much in that direction.
The City Council should be militant in making certain that our record as the nation’s safest city be maintained. Chicago today tops every large city in the country for progress in safety and we want to see that GRAND AWARD again awarded to our city next year. We must continue to realize that everything we do for the betterment of our city here at home has its reflection in added courage and morale for the boys at the front who are fighting for you and me.
Our highway program must also have our concentrated attention. This city needs highways, not only to stimulate building and expansion of our neighborhoods to make Chicago a more attractive place in which to live, but also as a necessary factor in building up the recreational facilities that attract visitors. Already Chicago attracts more than 900 conventions every year, and by improving our highways, by increasing our recreational advantages and by further beautifying a city that already is internationally known as one of the most beautiful in the world we will attract still more.
In order for our city to continue to progress we must have the facilities that make this progress possible. One of the prime requisites for progress is transportation. In order that industry will continue to choose Chicago as its permanent location, in order that new neighborhood communities be created and in order that slum areas may be cleared and our blighted areas rehabilitated it is absolutely necessary that Chicago have a truly adequate transportation system. In this regard it should be the duty and the responsibility of every Alderman to use his every effort—to fight for a good transportation ordinance.
We in Chicago—the older members of the City Council—maintain that we have that kind of an ordinance in the unification agreement now before the Illinois Commerce Commission . But those of you just newly elected will have the opportunity to examine it and reach your own conclusions. And I am confident that whatever those conclusions may be they will be in the best interests of the city.
And to you new Aldermen I want to say also that everyone of you can be assured of fair treatment from this rostrum. Your ideas will be valued and your opinions given full consideration. I do not think that anyone can point to an occasion when this spirit of fairness has been violated.
I want you to feel that you are always welcome in the Mayor’s office on business pertaining to the city. We want you to feel at home regardless of what party you may belong to. We think that the spirit of true democracy—the thing we are fighting for today all over the world—is truly represented in this city.
Any of you men who want improvements in your ward that may require the assistance of the Mayor will find me ready to support you to any extent that is reasonable and in line with the best interests of the city. We will receive you in the same spirit in which you come in.
And to you other Aldermen, who have been members of the Council during a large part of my past Administration, I want to express my sincere thanks; not in behalf of myself alone but in behalf of the entire citizenry of Chicago for the good work and cooperation that you have shown. You have done a good job and it is evident that the people recognize this because they reelected you. You have been untiring in your efforts, thinking constantly of the best interests of your city. You and men like you what makes Chicago great. I would like to prophesy that this new City Council will prove to be a potent factor in building not only the greater City of Chicago, but also in building for the future of our country.
I don’t know of anything else that I can say to you at this particular time. I may have more to say at a later date. But this night has been set aside for you and your families and your friends and it is not a fitting time to go into detailed discussions of serious civic problems. This is more of a speech than I intended to make but I could not let this opportunity go by to indicate to you that you are dignified members of a dignified body and to indicate also the respect that is due you as members of this City Council. It seemed appropriate therefore that the Mayor should offer at least a few observations with reference to the administration of the city. So with that in mind let us go on now with the next business before the Council.
- Chicago City Council. Journal of the Proceedings, April 9, 1943, p. 4–5.