Mayor Richard M. Daley Inaugural Address, 2003

Richard M. Daley Biography

Inauguration date: May 5, 2003

This speech is recorded as it first appeared in print. Archaic spelling and misspellings in the original document have not been corrected.

Thank you, Judge Evans, for administering the oath of office today—and thank you for your public service and for your contributions to the City of Chicago and to the justice system.

And, I want to thank my family—my wife, Maggie and our children, Patrick, Elizabeth and Nora; our son-in-law, Sean; our granddaughter Maggie; and Kevin, who is always in our hearts. Without their constant support I would not be here today.

Treasurer Rice, City Clerk Laski, Aldermen, members of the clergy, distinguished guests:

This is the fifth time I’ve taken the oath as your mayor. But I’m as honored and excited to recite those words today as I was the first time I spoke them.

I love cities, and I love this city and, above all, I love its people. I love our diversity. I love the beauty of our lakefront, the vitality of our neighborhoods and the virtue of our people.

This is the greatest city in the world.

So today, we are accepting not just a job, but a trust.

Members of the City Council, together you and I face a daily challenge: the challenge of making every neighborhood in this city a place where people want to work and live and raise their families.

And I am proud to say we have kept that trust these past fourteen years. Together, we have worked to make our streets safer and cleaner.

Together, we’ve launched historic efforts to give all the children in this city the educational opportunity they deserve, and to reform a deplorable public housing system that was failing its residents and taxpayers.

Together, we’ve built new community anchors all over this city—schools, parks and libraries; police and fire houses.

Together, we’ve provided the incentives that have led to new businesses and housing and thousands of new jobs.

Together, we’ve led the resurgence of downtown Chicago, which is once again a prime destination for tourists and families.

Even in tough economic times, and with new security demands placed on us by a changing world, we have moved Chicago forward.

But the most important word in that litany is “together”.

For without unity, we could never have achieved all we have for our city and our people. We all remember a time, not so long ago, when deep divisions within this chamber and our city nearly paralyzed Chicago, making progress on even the simplest problems seem almost impossible.

It was a time when we allowed our differences to overwhelm our shared concerns and common destiny; a time when we allowed Chicago’s greatest treasure of our rich diversity to become a source of bitter conflict.

There are many things we have done together in which I take enormous pride. But none is more gratifying than the fact that we as a city rose above those difficult days, and we in this chamber put those conflicts behind us.

The progress we have made began with the realization that we all need each other; not just those of us in this room, but all of us in this city—business and labor; block clubs and clergy; and residents from one end of Chicago to the other.

And today, more than ever, we need that spirit of unity and cooperation. As we meet to inaugurate a new administration and City Council, we are faced with sobering challenges, which will force hard and painful choices.

I know that everyone in Chicago shares my deep commitment to lift the quality-of-life on every block and in every neighborhood of our city.

We have invested billions of dollars in that effort over the past fourteen years, and the results are clear. In many positive ways, we have transformed our city.

But today we face budgetary constraints, resulting from factors beyond our control. For the past two years, the national recession and the federal and state fiscal problems have led to sharply declining revenues.

At the same time, the cost of protecting our city against terrorist threats has added to our budgetary burden.

We have cut back city government dramatically these past two years, and have implemented new and more efficient ways to get the work of city government done.

That process will continue. But it has its limits.

So this year, we will have to make some difficult decisions about how we can continue to invest to improve neighborhood quality of life during a slow economy.

And, as with any hard decisions, we will succeed only by working together.

Before I review the many challenges facing our city in the years ahead, I want to begin by raising an issue that deeply troubles me today—violence in Chicago.

Over the last fourteen years, together, we have accepted the challenge of fighting crime in our city. We have waged this battle in our streets and in our neighborhoods, and we have lowered the crime rate and the murder rate.

We are indebted to Superintendent Hillard for his hard work and dedication in helping reduce crime.

But today there is still too much violence in our city. And we are all angered by the number of murders that are still committed every year.

There is no greater obstacle to our efforts to improve our quality of life than the gangs, guns and drugs that still plague too many of our communities.

Just a few days ago, a twelve year-old boy, René Guillen, was murdered as part of gang violence in broad daylight, after working in a neighborhood clean-up effort.

On Easter Sunday, a seven year-old girl, Ashlee Poole, was shot in the head because of gang violence while sitting on her front porch.

Sadly, every day, there are too many victims of gang, gun, drug and other violence across Chicago.

On behalf of little Ashlee and René and all the victims of violence in our city, the time has come to say: enough is enough.

Today, I call on all the people of Chicago to come together and send a clear message to the gang-bangers, drug dealers and others who engage in crime—we’re fed up with the way you endanger our streets, take our kids and harm our quality of life.

Our children must be able to go to and from school and play safely in their yards and neighborhoods. And our families must feel safe in their homes and their neighborhoods.

Only by fighting violence together, neighborhood-by-neighborhood and block-by-block, will we take back the street corners and the alleys and the bus stops and the parking lots where thugs are still in control.

Together, we can do it.

And together, we can lower our city’s murder rate.

We will continue to protect the safety of the citizens of Chicago, and hire police officers to maintain our sworn strength.

Every day our officers do a good job protecting the people of Chicago, and we will give them even more support.

We will do that through the modern technology that gives Chicago’s police the ability to chart overnight crime, predict crime patterns, identify suspects more quickly and deploy personnel more efficiently.

Today, I challenge our leaders in the police department to take full advantage of these modern resources and develop new and bolder ways to fight crime—especially gangs, guns and drugs—in our city.

We must do a better job of disrupting and preventing gang, gun, drug and other forms of crime before they occur.

Gang members and drug dealers must know that we won’t tolerate their efforts to rob our city of our young people and our neighborhoods of their safety.

Every officer needs to have complete knowledge of the crime activities in the neighborhood they serve.

We must put a greater emphasis on those successful street based programs that offer gang members a real alternative to a life of crime.

We must get even more guns off our streets.

There needs to be a no-tolerance approach to fighting domestic violence.

We need to support more aggressive prosecution of street gangs at the federal and state levels.

We must better target police to areas of higher crime and crime hot spots, so that there is both a greater police presence and more visible on-the-street crime fighting.

And we must do this in a more timely way so that we prevent crime from taking hold.

To achieve this, we will move forward with new deployment efforts, but only in ways that continue to protect all the people of Chicago.

I will not agree to plans that leave any neighborhood vulnerable.

And I will not tolerate discrimination or officer misconduct of any kind. Our economic and cultural diversity is our city’s strength, and we will protect it.

Our Police Department will continue to strengthen relationships with our diverse communities through forums and CAPS beat meetings.

On April 29, 6,500 volunteers came together at the U.I.C. Pavilion to celebrate the tenth anniversary of CAPS. Among all the steps to fight violence we have taken together, community policing has been among the most important.

In the ten years since it was instituted citywide, crime in our city has gone down by twenty-seven percent.

Simply stated, CAPS works because our police and tens of thousands of community residents work together day-by-day and block-by-block to prevent and fight crime in every neighborhood in our city.

And, moving forward, CAPS remains the way that together we can best fight gangs, guns and drugs.

So today, I renew my challenge to every citizen to get involved in their neighborhood CAPS program.

If you have a problem on your street, it’s your responsibility to work with our police to take it back.

This is everyone’s responsibility: mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles, clergy, block clubs, chambers of commerce and community organizations.

Attend monthly beat meetings. Call 911 to report any crime or unusual activity. Or ask us to tow an abandoned car, clean up graffiti or fight other problems where you live.

And keep an eye on the children in your neighborhood and on your block. Our children are not just the responsibility of the schools during the day and the police at night. They are always our responsibility, starting first and foremost with our parents.

For its part, the Police Department will do a better job of sharing information with the community about crimes, so the community can help solve them.

We all know that four out of every five murders in Chicago are committed with guns and that more than 7,000 people were wounded by guns last year.

That’s why we’ve made confiscating and destroying illegal guns a priority, and why Chicago has a better record of doing it than any other city in the nation.

Our police officers seized and destroyed 10,182 guns just last year—bringing the ten year total to almost 160,000 guns.

But if we are to really lower the murder rate, we must do even better. Together, we must get more guns off our streets.

This means continuing Project Safe Neighborhoods, our successful partnership with United States Attorney Fitzgerald that cuts through the bureaucracy and targets the prosecution of gun possession, dealers and crimes.

It means continuing the crime-fighting partnerships we have with law enforcement agencies at every level of government.

It means better enforcement of current gun laws, not on a limited basis, but from top to bottom.

And if we are really serious about fighting gun crime, it means that we will come together to pass reasonable legislation in Springfield that protects the rights of legitimate gun owners and ends the easy access to guns in Illinois.

We will not give up or give in to those who find this legislation to be politically unpopular or who hold an extreme and unyielding view toward it.

When are people going to wake up and understand that we can both protect the rights of hunters and the lives of children and families in Chicago?

We also will stay the course with our groundbreaking lawsuit against the gun industry, and we will oppose efforts in Springfield and Washington, D.C., to outlaw such suits.

Someone has to explain to me why the only industry that can’t be sued should be the one that makes a product that kills thousands of Americans each year.

In addition to fighting gun violence, we will redouble our efforts to fight domestic violence—through better police training, tougher state laws and the greater involvement of the community and family members.

This fall, the city will host a national conference on domestic violence in the workplace.

Taken together, our police department and the rest of the criminal justice system have removed thousands of lawbreakers from our streets and put them into prison. But we need to do a better job of preparing these offenders to return to society.

The vast majority of offenders aren’t prepared for life outside of prison. And too many of them return to a life of crime.

Even if you have little sympathy for ex-lawbreakers, the smart thing for them, their families and ourselves is to help them get the high school education they need while in prison as well as the counseling and job-training they need once they have been released.

And working with you, it is our commitment to begin doing just that.

If these individuals had been properly educated in the first place, most of them would never have ended up in the criminal justice system.

As we look to the future, the key to lowering the crime rate and improving our economy is to better educate our children.

Our city recognized that fact eight years ago when we came together behind the principle that every child deserves to be educated to his or her potential.

Some people said it was a hopeless mission. Others predicted we would not stay the course. They were wrong.

Today, our schools are improving.

And, looking to the future, our priority will continue to be the education of all our children, beginning in their earliest years.

I believe our students will continue to progress because we are focusing on the basics, starting with reading.

I want to congratulate our education leadership team of Michael Scott, Arne Duncan and Barbara Eason-Watkins for their reading initiative, which sets a goal of making every child a reader by the third grade.

And this fall, seventy-five schools will begin a similar program in other basic subjects—math and science—with fifty schools added each year through 2008. They have also created fifteen smaller high schools, with eight more opening this fall, which enables us to provide more individual attention to students.

And they have made many difficult, but positive, decisions—from closing down under-performing and underused schools, to raising graduation standards, to getting tougher on social promotions, to cutting bureaucratic spending.

But, most importantly, they understand that we must support neighborhood schools all across Chicago that will produce the majority of our future workforce.

But if our students are to graduate from high school with the skills necessary for life and work, we need to do even more.

As we look to the future, we must recognize that too many of our children are already behind when they begin kindergarten—because they haven’t received adequate education early in life.

And many of them fall further and further behind with each year of school—because they’re competing with children who received early childhood education and entered kindergarten better prepared to learn.

No longer can we afford to limit our concept of education to kindergarten through the twelfth grade. Learning—and the opportunity to educate our children—begins at birth, and it’s time we fully recognized that fact.

Every parent and guardian, regardless of their social or economic background, should have the same opportunity to help their children learn early in life—whether it’s through more informed parenting at home or through a high-quality child-care center. So this fall we will move forward with our broader commitment to help provide early childhood education to every parent or guardian who wants it for their child.

Because of limited resources, it’s a goal that will take many years to achieve.

Our first steps, which we will announce soon, will establish learning standards for the hundreds of city and state funded pre-school centers in Chicago.

And we will conduct a major education campaign to help parents understand what their children need to learn in their earliest years; what pre-school options are available to them; and—importantly—why their children need to start learning early in life.

I deeply believe that our children will reap the benefits of this effort for the rest of their lives and that the next generation in our city will be better prepared for the workforce.

Our early childhood education program is based on the premise that the old K—12 model of education is obsolete. So is the old model of the summer vacation and the five- or six-hour school day.

We have understood for years that our children should not be left unsupervised hour alter hour during the school year and day after day during the summer.

This is why today I renew our commitment to our KidStart programs, which provide young people with positive after school and summer alternatives—ranging from the arts, to sports, to computer classes to summer jobs.

Whether it’s through after school programs at parks, community-based organizations or After School Matters, every child who is involved in one of these programs is one more child who, at least for a few hours, is staying away from a destructive life of gangs, guns and drugs.

I want to thank Kraft Foods for its recent contribution of three million dollars to KidStart over the next three years. I challenge other companies to follow its great example.

Private and corporate contributions are more important than ever, in light of the serious budget problems facing our state and local governments.

Despite those challenges, the Governor’s 2004 budget increases per-student funding by $250 and maintains construction funds, and I believe he deserves credit for his commitment to our children.

I also want to thank Deborah Lynch and the Chicago Teachers Union for their leadership in the effort to improve the quality of teaching in our schools.

Together with the Teachers Union, our schools are working to assure that every teacher is highly qualified by the year 2006. They have also stepped up early recruitment of teachers, revising a failed policy that left Chicago out of the competition for the best college graduates.

And this year they will recruit more college students than ever into our Summer Fellows program, which seeks to attract them to careers as public school teachers.

I believe the people of Chicago can take great pride in the progress we’ve made in education—especially because it has been accomplished almost entirely with the support of local taxpayers and the state taxes they pay.

Our school construction and repair program has invested $3.1 billion over the last seven years, and another $512 million this year. Eighty-four percent of this money has come from local taxpayers—and I want to thank them for their support of our city’s children.

As I’ve said many times, the federal government has paid only one percent of the cost of those improvements—and once again I challenge Washington to start paying its share.

Even with the additional funding from Springfield that the Governor has proposed for next year, the Chicago Public Schools still have at least $2.5 billion of unmet capital needs. Across the nation, the needs are measured in the hundreds of billions.

Chicago’s taxpayers also deserve some help when it comes to building and maintaining the other infrastructure that is important to a better neighborhood quality of life—streets, sewers, bridges, alleys, libraries, parks, C.T.A. stations and tracks, and police and fire stations.

We all know that since 1989, our city’s taxpayers have invested billions of dollars in this vital infrastructure—and the results are seen and appreciated in every neighborhood.

This is a tremendous accomplishment for us all—but there is much more to be done before every neighborhood has the up-to-date facilities it needs, especially the police and fire stations that are vital to neighborhood safety.

But I have to tell you today that as we look beyond this year’s budget, because of the slow economy, it will be more difficult than ever to identify the funds to continue these vital efforts.

But, together, I’m confident that we will continue to invest in our neighborhoods so that the quality of life continues to improve all across Chicago.

Once again, I call on President Bush and the Congress to develop a national program to invest in infrastructure: in schools, housing, transportation and public safety.

If we can afford to re-build Iraq, why can’t they come up with the money to re-build America?

And that includes more funding for affordable housing.

Over the last fifteen years, our city has helped tens of thousands of families find affordable homes and apartments.

The ordinance that recently passed the City Council was a strong step in the right direction, and I want to thank all those who supported it.

But, as I have acknowledged, too many people still need housing they can afford—especially rental housing. So, together we can and we will do more.

But we have to be careful not to compromise the private sector’s willingness to build housing in the first place. The housing sector is one relatively strong element in a flat economy, and the last thing we want to do is slow it down.

We also must work harder to assure that residents of the Chicago Housing Authority become full residents of the City of Chicago through our groundbreaking Plan for Transformation.

Terry Peterson, the executive director of the C.H.A., Board President Sharon Gist Gilliam and their team are well on their way to fulfilling their commitment to public housing residents. I believe they deserve credit for the tangible progress they’ve made so far.

They are also mindful of the ongoing challenges of providing services to those who have been isolated and ignored for too long. And they are committed to be responsive to the concerns that have been raised.

They will deliver on their commitment to build and rehab replacement housing for every lease-compliant resident.

This year alone they will break ground at a minimum of seven locations, including Ida B. Wells and Stateway Gardens.

They will add case managers to the service connector program, tailor its services to individual needs and improve its ability to work with hard-to-reach families.

They will complete the rehabbing of senior and scattered-site housing.

And, for the first time, in partnership with the City, they will provide non-lease holders with transitional housing centers that can accept referrals from the C.H.A. and other city departments.

C.H.A. residents deserve the same quality of life as any other Chicago resident—job training and a good job for themselves, a good education for their children, decent housing and safe neighborhoods.

And, together, we must welcome them into our communities, our schools, our houses of worship and the life of our city.

We must also help others become a full part of our city, including the homeless.

A few months ago we announced a major new commitment to end homelessness in Chicago over the next ten years. It is a groundbreaking effort, developed together with advocacy groups, which focuses on moving the homeless into permanent housing as quickly as possible.

It also provides them with additional services such as counseling and job training that address the problems that caused them to become homeless in the first place.

It’s an ambitious undertaking, but together we can achieve it.

As I’ve said, we should be proud that Chicago’s quality of life has been nationally recognized as among the best of any big city in the nation and the world.

That’s partly because of our excellent system of parks—not just along the lakefront but also in our neighborhoods, where we’ve made major investments in the last ten years.

I want to thank David Doig, Park District Superintendent; Maria Saidaña, Board President; and their team at the Chicago Park District for all they’ve done to upgrade our park system and expand its programs, especially neighborhood programs for teenagers and young adults.

Since 1993, the Chicago Park District has added over 175 acres of new parkland. The Park District and the City have planted over 300,000 trees and built over sixty-three miles of landscape medians.

Soon, with the completion of Soldier Field, seventeen new acres of downtown parkland will be added along the lakefront and millions of dollars a year will be generated to acquire new neighborhood parkland and fund neighborhood park and field house improvements around the city.

The Park District also remains committed to providing the facilities that people want in their neighborhood parks, such as swimming pools, batting cages and skate parks, and to making these facilities available in all the communities they serve.

And, just as important, they are undertaking a complete review of all their programs—to assure that these are the programs people want, and that they are targeted to the areas where they are needed.

Through our water agenda, we will take a national leadership role in protecting the Great Lakes, which contain ninety-five percent of the nation’s fresh surface water supply and are our city’s basic source of water.

Our water agenda considers water as a single resource. It recognizes that managing storm water, protecting water quality and promoting conservation are all part of the same goal. Through it, we will set an example for the rest of the nation by stepping up conservation programs that have already reduced daily water use by 160 million gallons over the last ten years.

We’ll continue to replace fifty miles of water mains a year. We’ll continue to install water-saving plumbing in City buildings arid Park District pools.

And we’ll pay special attention to the Great Lakes, which are threatened by invasive species, like Asian carp and by a number of different forms of pollution including industrial discharges, agricultural runoff and the salt, oil and gasoline that run off our roadways.

When the sewer system becomes full during big storms, rain water and waste water overflow into our rivers and sometimes, Lake Michigan.

So we’re experimenting with porous alleys and so called rain gardens which send water into the ground, rather than in sewers.

These alternative techniques for managing storm water can help reduce the burden on the sewer system and improve water quality.

Chicago’s quality of life also depends on its excellent public transportation system, which enables us to be a pedestrian-friendly city with a vibrant downtown that so many other cities wish they had.

I congratulate C.T.A. President Frank Kruesi, Board President Valerie Jarrett and their team for improving customer service and for their commitment to public transportation that is cleaner, safer, more on time and friendlier.

They have upgraded buses, trains, stations and the entire Douglas Blue line which serves the west and southwest sides.

Taken together their efforts have increased ridership in each of the last five years.

This fall, the C.TA. will begin construction to increase the capacity of the Brown Line, which serves the northwest side, an area that has grown tremendously over the past decade.

In addition, the C.T.A. is taking a close look at the way it plans and delivers service to its customers. And they will work toward improving north and south bus service on Lake Shore Drive, so customers may experience lower travel times to and from the Loop.

And in the future, plans for the creation of a Circle Line will link all of Chicago’s C.T.A. rail lines and all of the METRA lines and support the ongoing revitalization of neighborhoods adjacent to the Central Area. They’re rehabbing a span of track connecting the Green Line with the Blue Line. This will provide more transit options for west side residents.

They are upgrading a number of rapid transit stations on the south branch of the Red Line. This is critical to providing customer-friendly service.

We must also come together on a state, regional and local basis to assure that Congress includes funds to continue to improve our city’s and our region’s transportation system.

The Circle Line will improve regional access and connectivity between C.T.A., PACE and Metra, as will restructured bus service like new improved routes to Evanston, Skokie and Chicago’s far north side.

These forward thinking plans are designed to provide better links between Chicago communities and the forty suburbs served by the C.T.A.

But, more than anything else, our future quality of life depends on protecting and growing our strong, diverse local economy.

It’s important to remember that, even during the current slow economy, we are better positioned than most other cities for the very reason that our economy is diverse.

During the last business cycle, from 1990 to 2000, the Chicago area added 476,000 jobs, more than New York and Los Angeles combined.

And, according to World Business Chicago, even though our region has lost jobs because of the economic slowdown, our region’s unemployment rate is still lower than that of seventy-two other metropolitan areas.

On balance, we’re far ahead of where we were in 1990, and poised for an economic recovery.

But we’re not going to sit back and wait for things to happen. We have to continue to exploit our advantages—and one of our major advantages is being the nation’s transportation and aviation hub.

The Midway Airport Terminal Development Program will be complete in 2004 and is expected to create 94,000 temporary and permanent jobs throughout the Chicago area and generate nearly $4 billion a year in economic activity.

Together, we must move forward with the modernization of O’Hare International Airport.

Without it, our regional economy will suffer as jobs and businesses move to other cities across the nation with more vision and energy.

The O’Hare expansion will generate 195,000 new jobs and $18 billion a year in economic activity. It will improve safety and efficiency, reduce airline costs and make life easier for the traveler.

Some people say this is not the right time to expand an airport, because of the shaky financial condition of some of the major airlines.

I disagree. Airports are being expanded and modernized all across the country today—from Houston and Dallas to Atlanta to Miami. And we cannot afford to fall any further behind.

In addition, some airlines may go out of business or restructure themselves, but new airlines will take their place—and they will be attracted to airports where they can operate most efficiently and cost-effectively.

The airport projects are only a part of our economic development efforts. We’ll continue to use tax increment financing, industrial revenue bonds and every other tool at our disposal to attract and retain industry to Chicago.

To boost the construction industry, we have created a new Department of Construction and Permits to remove any unnecessary delays in the issuing of building permits.

Developers lose thousands of dollars for every day of delay. And when that happens, the entire Chicago economy loses jobs and economic development.

Our Buildings Department will focus on inspections, to protect the safety of the public. With the increasing age of many of our buildings, this has become especially important.

We’ll continue our efforts to grow Chicago’s technology industry and support small and medium-sized businesses, which are the backbone of neighborhood job creation.

And we must continue to enhance the competitive advantage of our tourism and convention industry, which attracts thirty million visitors to Chicago each year, pumping some $8 billion a year into the Chicago economy.

At the same time, together, we will step up our efforts to make sure Chicagoans are trained for the jobs of the 21st century.

Last year, our WorkNet Chicago program served more than 100,000 people, including dislocated workers, ex-offenders and welfare-to-work participants.

We have recently opened two new City-funded job-training centers and we continue to work with the city colleges, the labor unions and employer groups to help Chicagoans develop the necessary job skills for a changing economy.

And my Task Force on Employment of People with Disabilities is working on a coordinated and aggressive citywide plan to bring more people with disabilities into the workforce.

It is time we provided these talented people with the opportunities they deserve to become part of the mainstream of our economy.

Together, we will continue to look out for the people who most need our help: the jobless, the homeless, the elderly, the disabled and, most of all, our children.

But to do that and everything else I’ve reviewed here today and continue to protect our taxpayers—we must constantly make government more efficient.

And we must continue to cut its cost.

Through improved management and the reduction of overtime, we’ve cut government spending by $211 million since 2000. And this is not enough.

So far, because of our very conservative revenue projections, we have been able to manage our way through this slow economy. But we are, to a large extent, at the mercy of national and international economic forces.

When eighty percent of the cost of government goes toward personnel, the reality is that we must continue to control these costs if we expect to provide essential services, much less improve them.

And when the City and its sister agencies are forced to spend more than $400 million a year on programs that the federal and state governments require but do not fully fund—we must fight them—and I ask for your support in this effort.

So, together, in the next few months and years, we will continue to streamline procedures, reduce the size and cost of the workforce, improve worker performance and efficiency and continue to reduce overtime.

It will not be easy. And it must be done.

As I’ve said many times, new or higher taxes will always be the last resort.

And so, my fellow public servants, the challenges are many. The resources are more limited. But the mission remains clear. We cannot be afraid of making the tough choices on behalf of the people of Chicago.

Together, we can continue to improve our quality of life.

Together, we can make our neighborhoods safer.

Together, we can continue to improve the education of our children.

Together, we can provide more affordable housing for those who need it most.

Together, we can grow our economy and create new and better jobs.

And, together, we can improve the management of government while we protect our taxpayers.

This is our mission.

But in these hard times, we can only move forward by working together with our businesses, our houses of worship, our community groups, our universities and our labor unions, all of which share a commitment to our future.

Chicago’s continued greatness as a city depends on people—of every race, religion and ethnic origin—who are willing to make that extra effort to build stronger, safer communities in every part of this city.

Braced for the challenges that lie ahead, let us resolve today to work together to make the greatest city in the world even greater.

Thank you very much.


  • Chicago City Council. Journal of the Proceedings, May 5, 2003, p. 12–29.
Print this page