Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Mayor Emanuel Takes Over

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Watch as Mayor discusses the challenges facing the city and his administration.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office Monday morning with a nod to the past and an eye on the future.

That future will include sweeping changes and tough choices, Emanuel said during his address.

"I am proud to lead a city united in common purpose and driven by a common thirst for change," Emanuel said in the opening moments of his address. "To do that we must face the truth. It is time to take on the challenges that threaten the very future of our city. The quality of our schools, the saftety of our streets, the cost and effectiveness of city government and the urgent needs to create jobs right here in the city of Chicago."

The first entity to feel the influence of Rahm Emanuel: Chicago's public schools.

Emanuel spent ample time during his speech talking about the need for change in the city's struggling school system. Following up on a theme that has been present since he won election, Emanuel vowed to lengthen the school day to put students on par with other school systems around the country.

"Let us also recognize the magnitude of the challenge," Emanuel said, telegraphing a fight that includes the Chicago Teacher's Union, parents and students. . "Today our school system graduates only half. And with shorter school day we short change those who do get a diploma.

He won applause, however, with a different education initiative. Emanuel said the country must pass the DREAM act to give undocumented immigrants access to higher education.

After spending considerible time on education, Emanuel transitioned to safety, and touted the record of incoming police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, who has a history of working on a beat.

McCarthy will likely have to do more with less, as Emanuel said he plans to shrink the size and cost of the city's government.

While he plans to cut, he says the idea goes beyond doing less with more. He says the city needs to find new ways to combat old problems.

But he didn't suggest shying away from the problems, rather, in Rahm style, he said we need to confront them head-on.

"Chicago is a city of 'yes we can' not 'no we can't,'" he said.

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