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Rahm Begins Second Term, Says We Must Prevent 'Another Lost Generation'

By Ted Cox | May 18, 2015 7:36am | Updated on May 18, 2015 12:35pm
 Former president Bill Clinton with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Emanuel's wife Amy Rule at the Chicago Theater.
Former president Bill Clinton with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Emanuel's wife Amy Rule at the Chicago Theater.
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Getty Images/Brian Kersey

THE LOOP — Mayor Rahm Emanuel dedicated himself to “preventing another lost generation of our city’s youth” as he took the oath of office for a second term Monday at the Chicago Theatre.

The mayor began his second term in what was technically considered a City Council meeting, with all 50 aldermen, including 13 incoming freshmen, inaugurated as well, along with Treasurer Kurt Summers and City Clerk Susana Mendoza.

Emanuel made passing reference to the $550 million “pension cliff” the city faces with overdue pension payments this year, but concentrated on the plight of underprivileged children, repeating the refrain, “We as a city must and can do better.”

 Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his wife, Amy Rule (l.), greeted well wishers at City Hall on Inauguration Day.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his wife, Amy Rule (l.), greeted well wishers at City Hall on Inauguration Day.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

“The faces of these lost and unconnected young men are often invisible — until we see them in a mug shot as the victim or perpetrator of a senseless crime,” Emanuel said. “Their existence is avoided rather than confronted. They live in the shadows of our cities — and in the recesses of our minds. But we must make them ever-present in our conversation."

Emanuel said, “We cannot abandon our most vulnerable children to the gang and the gun. They have the potential and the desire to be so much more.” He addressed those children directly, adding, “We owe you a better chance — and you owe it to yourself and your family to make the most of it. We will never give up on you, so do not give up on yourself."

Advocating a multi-faceted approach beyond government initiatives like Head Start, the mayor cited the independent Becoming a Man and Working on Womanhood programs, as well as Phillips Academy football team that made the state finals and Urban Prep Academy’s record of 100 percent college attendance.

“This is our challenge as a society — and as a city,” Emanuel said. “No longer can we tolerate leaving so many young people behind.

“Over the next four years, I will do everything in my power to spark hope in the eyes of every Chicagoan,” he added. “We will keep increasing wages and attracting more jobs. We will continue working to make our streets safer, our schools stronger, and provide more opportunities to our families." 

Soprano Renee Fleming performed "America the Beautiful," and Englewood-based playwright and poet Harold Green read. The ceremony was carried live on local television and radio stations, and President Bill Clinton attended, as did Emanuel's predecessor, Richard M. Daley.

Emanuel called Clinton "both a friend and a mentor." Emanuel fought to control his emotions when thanking his wife, Amy Rule, and his parents.

Emanuel became the first Chicago mayor forced into a runoff when he failed to gain a majority with 45.6 percent of the vote in the Feb. 24 election, but he won the runoff handily against Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia (D-Chicago) on April 7 with 56.2 percent of the vote.

Many aldermen survived contentious re-election campaigns as well, with runoffs in 18 wards. In the end, the 2015 election produced 13 new aldermen, with seven aldermen voted out and six newcomers filling open seats. Five aldermen retired and two shifted wards, while Ald. JoAnn Thompson (16th) died during the campaign.

Summers and Mendoza both won re-election unopposed in the Feb. 24 election.

Emanuel and Rule held an open house at City Hall from 2-4 p.m. Tickets were distributed for the inauguration ceremony, but the open house was first come, first served. Barricades were set up outside City Hall, but a substantial line never materialized, although the mayor and his wife were kept busy greeting well wishers and city staffers over the two hours.

Technically, the inauguration saw the City Council meeting adjourned, then reconvened as the new council is seated at City Hall on Wednesday.

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