Richard M. Daley

One of the most powerful and influential of America's big-city mayors, Richard M. Daley served six terms as Chicago's mayor. First elected in 1989, Daley was the longest-serving mayor in Chicago history, eclipsing the record set by his father, mentor and role model, the late Mayor Richard J. Daley. Richard M. Daley chose not to run for re-election in the 2011 campaign and left office after the inauguration of Rahm Emanuel. A former state legislator and Cook County state's attorney, Daley built a multiethnic, multiracial coalition that kept him in power, even as the strength and influence of the once-legendary county Democratic machine waned. Daley worked to revamp and improve the city's public school system, overhauled public housing and spent heavily on the city's infrastructure in projects ranging from Millennium Park to the expansion of O'Hare International Airport. Daley infamously ordered the overnight demolition of Meigs Field in 2003, abruptly ending a debate with state leaders about the downtown airport's future on Northerly Island, which is now a park. Projects that failed included a bid to host the 2016 Olympics, a 1991 plan for a Lake Calumet airport and concepts for a land-based casino coupled with a family theme park and a downtown trolley circulator project. Daley's time at the helm also was marked by federal investigations that uncovered contracting irregularities and what prosecutors called "massive fraud" in hiring and promotions designed to reward political loyalists. A top aide was sentenced to prison in the personnel scheme.

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