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Rahm Emanuel takes oath as new Chicago mayor

May 16, 2011|By Kristen Mack and John Chase, Chicago Tribune
(Jos? M. Osorio, Chicago…)

Reporting from Chicago —

Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel took the oath of office Monday to become Chicago's 46th mayor, and then laid out the challenges ahead: improving schools, ending gun violence and downsizing a city government taxpayers can no longer afford.

He asked Chicagoans, the City Council and the business community to help him.

"Our problems are large, but so is our capacity to solve them -- only if all those who profess a love for this City of Big Shoulders are willing to bear the responsibility for keeping it strong," Emanuel told a crowd of several thousand at Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.

"So today, I ask of each of you -- those who live here, and those who work here; business and labor: Let us share the necessary sacrifices fairly and justly," he said. "If everyone will give a little, no one will have to give too much."

Change was the overarching theme of his 25-minute speech.

"Today, more than any other time in our history, more than any other place in our country, the city of Chicago is ready for change," Emanuel said.

"For all the parents who deserve a school system that expects every student to earn a diploma; for all the neighbors who deserve to walk home on safer streets; for all the taxpayers who deserve a city government that is more effective and costs less; and for all the people in the hardest-working city in America who deserve a strong economy so they can find jobs or create jobs -- this is your day," Emanuel added.

"As your new mayor, it is an honor to fight for the change we need and a privilege to lead the city we love," he said. "We have much to do, but we should first acknowledge how far we have come.

In his speech, Emanuel paid tribute to outgoing Mayor Richard Daley but also reiterated campaign themes about difficult decisions that loom with the city spending more money than it collects.

Emanuel talked about Daley's work rebuilding the city, including Millennium Park, which he noted was an abandoned railyard.

"Nobody ever loved Chicago more or served it better than Richard Daley," Emanuel said. "Now, Mr. Mayor, and forevermore, Chicago loves you back."

Then it was time for Emanuel to talk about hard truths.

"New times demand new answers. Old problems cry out for better results. This morning, we leave behind the old ways and old divisions and begin a new day for Chicago. I am proud to lead a city united in common purpose and driven by a common thirst for change," Emanuel said.

"To do that, we must face the truth. It is time to take on the challenges that threaten the very future of our city: the quality of our schools, the safety of our streets, the cost and effectiveness of city government, and the urgent need to create and keep the jobs of the future right here in Chicago," he added.

"The decisions we make in the next two or three years will determine what Chicago will look like in the next 20 or 30," he said.

Vice President Biden was among the dignataries in attendance, along with Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner and White House Chief of Staff William M. Daley.

Illinois' congressional delegation is well represented.

You can read more about the inauguration at Chicago Tribune's Clout Street blog.

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