Daley reviews tenure as mayor during event at Wheaton College

Wheaton, IL

When asked what recommendations he would offer to Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley said, "Well, never give advice unless they ask for it!"

The quip drew laughs from the packed auditorium at Wheaton College this afternoon. Just weeks before his retirement from government, Daley gave a speech at the J. Dennis Hastert Center for Economics, Business and Public Policy.

Daley spoke about his efforts to foster cooperation between Chicago officials and community leaders in the collar counties throughout his 32 years as a state senator, Cook County state's attorney and Chicago mayor. He helped create the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus in 1997, inviting mayors from suburban communities to meet regularly and dicuss common concerns and goals.

"We have to realize in the long run that we have to live together. We have to look at this as one region," Daley said. "What's good for Wheaton is good for Chicago, and what's good for Chicago is good for Wheaton."

Daley said there was one issue this new organization would not take up, for obvious reasons.

"I told everyone that we're not going to talk about if O'Hare Airport should expand," Daley said. "If we did, we'd never get out of there. So, we put that aside."

However, members of the caucus have discussed how to achieve common goals, Daley said. Members have also shared ideas about bettering their communities, he said.

Daley said that elected officials must reduce the cost of running government and that Congress must balance its budget.

"There has to be a value to city government," Daley said. "I don't believe taxpayers can afford the cost of government. ... That's why we have to look at the value."

Daley announced last year that he would not seek re-election. He was first elected Chicago mayor in 1989. Emanuel will succeed Daley as mayor May 16.

Daley said he is confident that young people will pick up the torch as the new generation of community leaders. He also said he has been privileged to serve in various elective offices.

"I'm very proud to be a public servant, 39 years in total," Daley said. "We in government are public servants, and that's the word we have to use. This is because we must serve the public."

Daley was introduced by former U.S. Rep. J. Dennis Hastert, who founded the center at Wheaton College named for him. He commended Daley's work to improve the Chicago region.