The first policy proposal of Bill Daley’s campaign for Chicago mayor calls for a provision that certainly didn’t apply to his brother or father when they held the job: a term limit.
In announcing his ethics platform Thursday morning, Daley said he would push for a limit of two four-year terms on Chicago’s mayor, and said the City Council should consider term limits as well.
Daley’s father, Richard J. Daley, was elected to six terms as mayor, dying in office in 1976 at the age of 74. Daley’s brother, Richard M. Daley, won a two-year term in a 1989 special election followed by five four-year terms before stepping down in 2011. Together, the two Daleys served 43 years as mayor.
As Bill Daley runs to become the third member of his family to hold the office, proposing term limits will offer him a political message to distance himself from his family’s previous lengthy administrations. Plus, at 70 years old, it’s unlikely Daley would want to serve more than two terms if he were to win the office.
“I think eight years is enough for a chief executive to make accomplishments and set a tone and real change, and at the same time, I think it says to the public, ‘This isn’t a lifetime job,’” Daley said in an interview. “Whether you’re doing a good job or bad job, I just think it’s a good thing to do and Chicago is one of the rare exceptions of major cities that doesn’t have a term limit, and I think those cities have done well and I think our politics will do well by that, quite frankly.”
Asked if his push for term limits was an acknowledgment that his brother and father spent too long in office, Daley declined to directly answer the question.
“That’s the past. I’m talking about the next four years, and what I believe as Bill Daley — not as a Daley, but as Bill Daley,” he said. “That’s your job to comment on that, and that’s great. But for me, in 2019, I believe there ought to be term limits for mayor of Chicago.”
In announcing his ethics package, Daley said he also would ban family members from doing business with the city, would not accept campaign contributions from city lobbyists, would prohibit campaign staffers from lobbying City Hall and would suspend any fundraising efforts during his first three years in office among other proposals.
“These needed steps can help rebuild trust with the public and reassure people that the practices of the past will no longer be tolerated,” Daley said. “If I’m given the chance to serve, I’ll be working for the people of Chicago — and only the people of Chicago.”
Whether Daley’s term limit proposal carries weight with Chicago voters who may still have Daley fatigue remains to be seen, but term limits had been discussed increasingly more among some activists as Mayor Rahm Emanuel embarked for a third term before abruptly dropping his campaign last month.
Former Gov. Pat Quinn had spent much of the year collecting signatures to place a binding referendum question on the November ballot seeking to put term limits on Chicago mayors. The Chicago Board of Elections, however, ruled it ineligible because the City Council already had put three other referendums on the fall ballot and because Quinn had asked more than one question on his petitions. The former governor said he strongly disagreed with the decision and hinted at a possible court challenge.
As for Daley, the former financial executive and U.S. commerce secretary’s package of ethics proposals includes other provisions that would allow him to draw a distinction from the City Hall of his brother and father.
Daley would ban any of his family members from lobbying or doing business with City Hall, including managing any city pension funds. Under both Richard M. and Richard J. Daley, members of the Daley clan received city business.
Currently, Daley’s nephew John Daley, the son of Cook County Commissioner John P. Daley, is a registered City Hall lobbyist with more than 20 clients, including bus shelter and advertising giant JCDecaux, American Airlines, General Iron, Verizon and Abbvie, city records show. Daley’s son, Bill Daley, Jr., is a registered City Hall lobbyist for Goldman Sachs, where he leads the firm’s Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions.
Daley also would not accept any lobbyist donations while running for mayor and continue an executive ordinance that bans campaign contributions from lobbyists and the owners of city contractors to the mayor. Daley said he also would prohibit members of his campaign staff from lobbying the city if he is elected.
And, perhaps what will prove to be the most controversial of all his proposals at City Hall, Daley is calling for independent redistricting of the City Council. After the 2020 census, aldermen would once again divvy up new ward maps — a practice that often rewards political allies of the mayor and the City Council’s most influential aldermen, including powerful Finance Committee Chairman Ed Burke.
Earlier this week, Burke suggested Gery Chico, a longtime deputy of Richard M. Daley who ran for mayor in 2011, would be the best qualified to run City Hall.
Like Chico, Bill Daley launched his campaign after Emanuel made the surprise announcement last month that he was abandoning his bid for a third term, joining a field of candidates that is now 15 deep. The former JP Morgan Chase executive and White House chief of staff under then-President Barack Obama quickly catapulted to the front of the field in fundraising.
Since entering the race Sept. 17, Daley has raised more than $1.7 million. Other than an initial round of interviews after his announcement, Daley largely has been quiet until the unveiling of his ethics package Thursday.
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