Following numerous protests calling for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s resignation, Emanuel announced on Sept. 4 that he would not be running for mayor in 2019.
David Posey, 54-year-old cook and resident at Jeffery Manor in, said he “jumped for joy [and] did a backward split” when he heard the news.
Posey said he was glad to know Emanuel would be leaving office, opening the way for a mayor, such as businessman Willie Wilson, who can connect to all Chicago residents, no matter their economic class.
“[Emanuel] helped out the rich residents, he connected with the 1 percent,” Posey said. “He didn’t do much for the rest of us middle class, hard-working people.”
Emanuel’s announcement came as a shock to many, especially considering about $10 million raised for his 2019 campaign, which Emanuel has indicated he will return a portion of to donors.
According to Dick Simpson, professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago and former alderman of the 44th ward, Emanuel knew the race was going to be tough and may have made the decision not to run because of that.
“He knew this was going to be a hard race,” Simpson said. “The next four years are going to be hard for Chicago.”
Residents like Posey and former Chicago resident Patrick O’Neil, 53, St. Louis, said what Chicago really needs in their next mayor is someone who can reach the people.
“When you become the mayor of Chicago, you’ve got to connect with the poor, the middle-class and the rich,” O’Neil said.
O’Neil said the mayor should be able to address poverty while keeping the city attractive at the same time.
“We need a good mayor in this city,” O’Neil said. “We need somebody who’s going to take it back to the top for the beautiful city that it is.”
Emmanuel’s announcement came the eve of jury selection for the trial of police officer Jason Van Dyke who is accused of killing a black 17-year-old, Laquan McDonald, in 2014. A video capturing the incident released nearly a year later caused protests in Chicago because it was alleged that Emanuel tried to bury the tape in order to protect his public image following his recent re-election.
“When that thing explodes, Emanuel doesn’t want to be around,” Posey said. “Emanuel knows that case is going to be his downfall.”
Laura Washington, a columnist for The Chicago Sun-Times and political analyst for ABC-7, said the Van Dyke trial may be part of the reason Emanuel is bowing out of the race.
“He knew it was going to be an uphill battle; he didn’t have enough steam in him for another term,” Washington said.
Despite giving up his position as mayor and announcing that he has no political plans to follow, Washington wouldn’t rule out the mayor in future presidential and gubernatorial elections, or in backing other candidates financially. Washington said Emanuel may end up using his $10 million in campaign funding to hold onto his power in the city.
“The people want to be heard,” Posey said. “When you hear the people, they hear you and then this city will shine again.”