Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mayor Daley

I notice a headline or some mention of Richard Daley earlier, the mayor of Chicago, and it made me wonder just how long he had been mayor and how that compared to how long his father was mayor. I mean, his father was mayor forever, but Daley's been mayor at least since I was in high school.

So I looked it up. Turns out Richard M. Daley has been mayor of Chicago for 20 years. Since 1989. His father, Richard J. Daley, was mayor for 21 years. So assuming Daley the second makes it through next year, he'll beat out his dad's tenure. He was last reelected in 2007.

When I was a kid, watching Chicago Mayoral elections was great sport. Or rather watching the Democratic primary election was, because that was the real election. No Republican was going to win the general election. The general election was just a formality.

I remember the primary where Richard M. Daley first tried to run for mayor back in 1983. In a three-way race between him, incumbent (and first female mayor of Chicago) Jane Byrne, and Harold Washington, Washington edged out a victory to become the first black mayor of Chicago.

Then he died one morning of a heart attack at his desk (supposedly while wearing women's underwear). City Council president David Orr became mayor for a whole week before the aldermen decided that Eugene Sawyer should actually be mayor to fill out Washington's term. To give you an idea of the strange process that led to Sawyer's election his "nomination for mayor occurred in the parking lot of a closed restaurant at North and Bosworth Avenues at 4:01 am on December 2, 1987"

Then he lost to Daley in 1989 and mayoral elections have been a non-event for 20 years. Even at the time everyone figured Daley would be mayor as long as he wants to be, and I'm sure that's still true today. It's not that he's a particularly great mayor, but he's very likable and the name "Daley" just is Chicago.

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In 1789, the governor of Australia granted land and some animals to James Ruse in an experiment to see how long it would take him to support himself. Within 15 months he had become self sufficient. The area is still known as Experiment Farm. This is my Experiment Farm to see how long it will take me to support myself by writing.