Chicago's 'iron mayor' steps down
Mayor Richard M Daley, who wielded more control over Chicago than anyone but his father decades before, has announced that he will not seek re-election.
For all but 13 of the last 55 years, Mr Daley has ruled City Hall with a red-faced temper, garbled syntax and iron fist. His departure threatens to leave a significant power vacuum in the third largest US city, which he helped transform from a gritty industrial hub into a gleaming modern metropolis.
It also opens the door to months of political jockeying before February's election.
Among the few names of potential successors to surface was Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, who mused earlier this year that he might like the post some day.
Flanked by his smiling wife Maggie, who is battling cancer, and their children, Mr Daley called the announcement "a personal decision, no more, no less", and said he and his family now begin a "new phase of our lives".
He said he thought about stepping down for several months and became comfortable with his decision during the last several weeks.
"It just feels right," Mr Daley said at a news conference. "I've always believed that every person, especially public officials, must understand when it's time to move on. For me, that time is now."
The Democrat is credited with saving a foundering public school system, beautifying downtown and tearing down the public housing high rises that helped give Chicago its reputation as one of America's most segregated cities.