Daley Wins Sixth Term as Chicago Mayor

Richard M. Daley was re-elected as mayor of Chicago on Tuesday, putting him in position to pass his legendary father as the city's longest-serving mayor. He won despite accusations of corruption.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Chicago's Mayor, Richard Daley, won another term yesterday. He will soon begin his sixth term, and he's in position to surpass his father as the longest serving mayor in the history of Chicago. The vote wasn't even close. Daley got something over 70 percent of the vote despite scandals and allegations of corruption.

Mayor RICHARD DALEY (Chicago): I think people know me. I mean there are people, unfortunately, who get corrupted. That's individuals, but most employees are not corrupt in the public or private sector. It does happen. And then you go on with it. You correct it. I understand that and they understand me.

INSKEEP: Mayor Richard Daley speaking to WBBN TV. Now Neil Steinberg is a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and he's on the line. And Mr. Steinberg, when Daley says voters understand me, well, do they understand that Daley's clean or do they understand that they don't mind much about corruption?

Mr. NEIL STEINBERG (Columnist, Chicago Sun-Times): I don't think they care a whole lot. Or as Patty Baller(ph), the famous Chicago (unintelligible), said the night his father was first elected, Chicago ain't ready for reform.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. STEINBERG: I mean to give him credit, the scandal hasn't touched him personally. His patronage chief went, people around him went; he might go. But, you know, people don't see it. They see the bean and they see the White Sox winning the World Series. I mean you have to remember this is a record low turnout. Like 30 percent showed up.

We've had elections better than 80 percent turnout of registered voters. So people, they don't feel affected by this. Everything is clicking along. They see the city getting the Olympics, they see everything being (unintelligible) -the people who vote. There are a lot of problems. Problems with the CTA, problems with the teachers, et cetera. But those people tend not to come out to the polls.

INSKEEP: The CTA, the Chicago Transit Authority.

Mr. STEINBERG: Correct.

INSKEEP: And what exactly are people accused of doing in Chicago's government?

Mr. STEINBERG: Well, we've got everything from police torture, a scandal which has never gone away and has flared up again and Daley might have to testify. People are accused of a lot of cronyism, a lot of putting their friends into lucrative jobs. The Hired Truck scandal was all about trucks that were supposed to be doing work for the city, which were just collecting cash and sitting there.

Oh gosh, I mean, you know, you could go on and on and on.

INSKEEP: You know, you've alluded to this and I wonder if Daley does deserve some credit though. You just go to Chicago. You walk around in the Loop. It seems like a very vibrant time in that city.

Mr. STEINBERG: He's done wonderful. You're absolutely right. It began, I think, with the '96 Democratic Convention coming here. Things which in a long-time Chicagoans never thought they'd see. Cabrini Green, the notorious housing project, basically stripped away, replaced with condos and a supermarket and all this sort of upscale stuff.

So there's no question about that. Planters and guardrails and wrought iron fences. The city looks beautiful. The world notices. You know, we're a Midwestern city, so we get kind of excited when we see ourselves, you know, in "The Economist" or something.

And so, yeah, you're absolutely right. It's a very exciting time. I remember a decade when they didn't put up a building downtown. And now they're putting up a skyscraper in every block it seems.

INSKEEP: And a big feature in "The Economist" magazine as you mentioned.

Mr. STEINBERG: That excited me more than the average Chicagoan, I suppose.

(Soundbite of laughter)

INSKEEP: Well, who knows? Whoever picks up that magazine, they're excited.

INSKEEP: Well, Mr. Steinberg, it's good to talk with you. Thanks very much.

Mr. STEINBERG: Sure, thank you.

INSKEEP: Neil Steinberg is a metro columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, of course in the city of Chicago where Mayor Richard Daley easily won re-election to a sixth term. He's on target to surpass his father as the longest serving mayor.

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