With his $14-million campaign and the suspenseful, drawn-out residency hearings and associated lawsuits now behind him, Chicago mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel was formally inaugurated as the city's new leader before an audience of onlookers, composed of many school children, at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park late in the morning May 16.
Just after he was sworn in by Judge Timothy Evans, chief judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Emanuel commenced his inaugural address, a 23-minute speech that tipped a hat to outgoing Mayor Richard Daley and outlined several of the new mayor's priorities upon taking office. Emanuel spoke at length of the reform he envisions for the city's school system, clearly a top priority he noted he is "impatient" to implement, in addition to his hopes to address public safety and "put the city of Chicago's financial health in order."
"It's not just a matter of doing more with less," Emanuel said. "We must look at every aspect of city government and ask the basic questions: Do we need it? Is it worth it? Can we afford it? Is there a better deal?"
"While we are not the first government to face these tough questions, it is my fervent hope that we become the first to solve them. The old ways no longer work. It is time for a new era of responsibility and reform," he continued. Emanuel concluded his speech by emphasizing his hopes for diverse factions of the city to work together and "share in sacrifice" in solving the many challenges lying before it. "If everyone will give a little, no one will have to give too much," he said.
Joining Emanuel on stage for the event were many political luminaries, including Vice President Joe Biden and wife Jill; now-former Mayor Daley and wife Maggie; former Mayor Jane Byrne; Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn; the state's representatives in Congress; and the full city council, whose members were formally sworn in during the ceremony. Newly elected City Clerk Susana Mendoza and City Treasurer Stephanie Neely were also sworn in.
Delivering the ceremony's invocation was Chicago Archbishop Cardinal Francis George, who has been a vocal opponent of marriage equality in recent years. Chicago-born Rabbi Jack Moline, who leads the Agudas Achim Congregation in Alexandria, Va., and is an outspoken proponent of pro-LGBT measures, delivered the benediction. Acclaimed Steppenwolf actor Amy Morton emceed the ceremony while the Chicago Children's Choir entertained with several songs, including a take on the anthemic K'naan song "Wavin' Flag" as a postlude.
Photos by Kat Fitzgerald ( www.mysticimagesphotography.com )