Chicago's mayor retiring after 21 years

Jason Knowles and Jessica D’Onofrio, ABC7 Chicago

CHICAGO) (WLS) — After more than two decades at the helm, Mayor Richard M. Daley is shaking up Chicago politics, saying he will not seek another term.

In an announcement that was a surprise to many Tuesday, the mayor said, “It is time.”

“I’ve always known that people want you to work hard for them,” Daley said. “Clearly, they won’t always agree with you. Obviously, they don’t like it when you make a mistake, but at all times, they expect you to lead, to make difficult decisions, what is right for them. For 21 years, that’s what I’ve tried to do. But today I’m announcing that I will not seek a seventh term as mayor of the city of Chicago. Simply put, it’s time. It’s time for me. It’s time for Chicago to move on.”

The business of government will go on as the mayor fills out the remainder of his term until May of 2011.

He may be retiring soon, but on Wednesday morning, it is back to work and a tight schedule for Mayor Daley. He kicks off the morning with a 9:30 a.m. event at Soldier Field, and then he presides over the Chicago City Council at City Hall at 10 a.m.

“I love public service,” Daley said. “I have no regrets, and to me, I have several more months to finish many things we worked on, and to then welcome the new mayor coming into our city.”

As Daley put it, no one is here forever. In 1989, he won the special election to finish the term of late mayor Harold Washington. He won re-election five times. On December 26, he will beat out his father to become the longest-serving mayor in Chicago history.

“I was thinking about it the last six months and the last few weeks more intently, and it is time,” Daley said.

The 68-year-old Daley told reporters about his decision Tuesday at an unscheduled news conference at City Hall. His wife, Maggie, and children were by his side.

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