Richard M. Daley has served as the Mayor of Chicago for 21 years and is considered by many as being one of the best Mayor’s in the United States.
People run for elected office because they want to make a difference, being considered a “big dreamer and a big doer” is probably the best compliment one can get as an elected official. The public is craving leaders who can rise above the petty squabbles that seem to dominate every legislative body with big ideas and the ability to get things done.
Mayor Daley has taken some innovative steps that every elected official can learn from.
- Schools – Knowing the importance of education and having very little influence over city schools, Daley sought and obtained control of Chicago’s school system. By having control, Daley was able to install a CEO and Board Chair and the performance of Chicago schools such as graduation rates have improved.
- City Services – Knowing that the city’s middle class will flee due to increased taxes and poor services, Daley has used private contractors to provide everything from fleet maintenance to drug treatment. In 2008, Daley consolidated ten departments into four newly created departments.
- Public Housing – Troubled high-rise low-income public housing developments have been demolished and replaced with mixed income developments.
- Government assets – To raise needed revenue and to get government out of businesses that it should not be in or that the private sector can do better, Daley has leased and sold bridges, parking garages, and parking meters to private entities, generating billions of dollars for the city of Chicago.
- Millennium Park – Daley had the vision and determination to transform a 24 acre area in the heart of downtown consisting of abandoned railroad tracks and parking lots into Millennium Park a noted attraction for Chicago residents and tourists.
- Green initiatives – Daley has set the goal of making Chicago the “America’s greenest city”. To that end Daley has planted a half million trees, installed rooftop gardens, and constructed community anchors that are environmentally friendly. Daley has created a Chief Environmental Officer position for the City of Chicago, who has created a performance tracking system to monitor each city departments efforts in improving environmental conditions in energy, air, land, water, and waste.
Propose some big dreams and focus on getting them done and you too can be considered the best elected official or leader in your community!