Thank you, Chicago, for this humbling victory. All I can say is, you sure know how to make a guy feel at home! What makes this victory most gratifying is that it was built on votes from every corner of the city, from people who believe that a common set of challenges must be met with common purpose. It's a victory for all those who believe that we can overcome the old divisions and the old ways that have sometimes held Chicago back. It's easy to find differences, but we can never allow them to become divisions.
Tonight, we are moving forward in the only way we truly can; together, as one city with one future. And after five months of campaigning across this city and talking to thousands of Chicagoans, from every community and every walk of life, I'm more convinced than ever that we can meet the great challenges before us. I can say that because, for all its beauty and bounty, the key to Chicago's greatness is what it always has been. It's you. It's hard-working, plain-speaking folks, who share a love for their city, and a determination to keep it strong. I share that love, and I'm determined, with your help, to meet our challenges head on, and make a great city even greater.
Tonight, I congratulate all my opponents, and their supporters. I know that they, too, were driven by their love for Chicago, and a determination to make our city work for all its people. And I look forward to drawing on their insights, energy and experience in the years to come.
Because while this election was hard fought, it was only a beginning. My sense - and I know it's your sense: we haven't won anything until a kid can go school and think about her studies, not her safety. Or until a parent is thinking about their work, not where they are going to find work. The real work of building a better future begins tonight, and I intend to enlist every living soul in our city to that cause. We need safer streets in all communities, and to end the killing of our children. We need stronger schools and involved parents to prepare our young people for success. We need to attract and grow the good jobs of today and tomorrow.
And we need to confront a budget deficit that threatens our future - but not by burdening Chicago families with more taxes they cannot afford, but by reinventing how city government works. These are the changes we need to set Chicago on the right course for the future - with a budget that's balanced and a playing field that's fair. I'm proud that we have never hidden the truth in this campaign. We said it's time for tough choices, because denial, in the face of challenge, is no strategy for success. But we also told Chicagoans that our fate is in our hands.
I just spoke with Mayor Daley, who proved that the right kind of leadership could make Chicago a world-class city while other cities around us faltered. Nobody has ever loved Chicago more, or served it with greater passion or commitment. This city bears his indelible imprint, and he has earned a special place in our hearts and our history. Tonight, we thank Mayor Daley for a lifetime of service to his beloved city, and wish him and Maggie all best in the future.
Rich Daley is the only mayor a whole generation of Chicagoans has known, and an impossible act to follow. Yet we have to move forward. And we know that we face serious NEW challenges - and overcoming them will not be easy. It will require ideas, cooperation and sacrifice from everyone. As we move forward to address the great challenges before us, we must make sure that every community in Chicago is heard and included and represented.
I look forward to working with the tens of thousands of dedicated public servants who patrol our streets, teach our children and fulfill so many vital functions to meet our current challenges, and to do it in a way that is fair to them and taxpayers. And while not all the contests are settled, I want to reach out tonight to the members of the next City Council. We have the chance for a new partnership that will serve our city and its taxpayers well.
So thank you, Chicago, for this vote of confidence in our future. And I want to say to my wife Amy and my children - Zak, Leah and Ilana. THIS time we're coming home for good. Thank you to my campaign committee, which includes outstanding community leaders like fire fighters Annette Holt and Pat Kehoe, principals Zipporah Hightower and Kathleen Kennedy-Kartheiser, community leaders Juan Rangel, Robert Kohl, and Rev. Alvarez, and former representative Judy Erwin. Your faith in me is a huge source of strength. Thank you to the children I met along the way - Jeremy, Martel and Dejun - who showed just how important it is that we fight for a better future.
Thank you to all the elected officials who are here tonight and have been great leaders for our neighborhoods and our city. Secretary of State Jesse White, Representative Schakowsky, Representative Quigley and all the others who have committed their time and energy to this fight.
And I just talked to President Obama, who sends you all his love and affection for his hometown. During this campaign, I've been to 110 L stops around the city. And I know Chicago has a reputation for being windy and cold during the winter. But after meeting you at those L stops, discussing the future of the city and hearing about your care for it and dedication to it, I want people to know: Chicago is the warmest place in the world.
Let's continue our work together to make sure Chicago remains the greatest city on earth.
Book/CDs by Michael E. Eidenmuller, Published by McGraw-Hill (2008)
U.S. Copyright Status: Text = Uncertain.