Inauguration date: May 3, 1999
This speech is recorded as it first appeared in print. Archaic spelling and misspellings in the original document have not been corrected.
Editor’s note: Mayor Richard M. Daley took his oath of office March 1,1999 but delayed his formal inaugural speech until May 3, the date set by law for officials involved in a runoff election.
Today, we officially begin a new term as the elected representatives of the people of Chicago. I want to congratulate those of you who are new to this body and salute those of you who are returning. I would like to begin by acknowledging how much we have accomplished over the last ten years by working together.
On the issues that matter most—crime, schools, jobs and neighborhood quality of life—we have made enormous progress. We have challenged the old ways of thinking and fashioned new ways of solving problems, improving services and making government more responsive, lean and efficient.
And today, Chicago is moving forward on many fronts. But there is always more to be done. We can’t claim victory until every community is liberated from gangs, guns and drugs. We can’t claim victory until every child is receiving an education that truly prepares him or her for the 21st century. We can’t claim victory until every Chicagoan has an opportunity for a decent job. And we can’t claim victory until every neighborhood enjoys a good quality of life. So today, we renew our commitments to reform our schools, improve our neighborhoods, reduce crime, create jobs and strengthen our city.
Today, we renew our commitment to fight for Chicagoans when their interests are threatened. Today, we renew our commitment to work together for the common good, understanding that there will be honest, open debate and disagreement. But we cannot let our differences divide us. We’re all Chicagoans first—and we all work for the same people—with the same goals in mind—a better quality of life for us all.
In closing, let me say that no elected officials have more to do with the day-to-day quality of life in our neighborhoods than you, the members of the City Council. I have seen the positive differences so many of you have made on our communities. I understand the work that it involves and the hours it takes.
An alderman is never off duty. Your phones ring day and night with constituent problems. Your evenings and weekends are filled with community meetings and events. And out of those calls and meetings come the neighborhood agendas that you bring here, as you help shape policies and programs for the betterment of all our communities.
I have had the opportunity to walk every ward, time and again, with you and your constituents. And while we may not always agree, and we may not be in a position to grant every worthy proposal, I appreciate and value your advocacy and insight. And I know that we share common hopes and dreams for our city.
I look forward to working closely with each and every one of you in the years to come.
- Chicago City Council. Journal of the Proceedings, May 3, 1999, p. 3–5.