In his inaugural address Monday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called on virtually every interest in the city to help "leave behind the old ways and old divisions and begin a new day for Chicago." He spoke to "businesses large and small, and all of our labor unions." He addressed neighborhood organizations, charities and schools.
"All of us have a role to play in writing Chicago's next chapter," he said. "And anyone open to change will have a seat at the table."
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So there's no question, Mr. Mayor, leave a place for the suburbs.
Not that we are clamoring for huge change in the relationship between the city of Chicago and our many diverse towns. But we do know, as outgoing Mayor Daley knew as well, that our interests and the city's are inherently intertwined. We don't merely compete for education funding or transportation projects or jobs, but the initiatives we undertake on those and myriad other topics affect each other's prosperity and quality of life.
A strong commuter rail network and broad, safe expressways are critical connectors for suburbanites with jobs in the city as well as for city residents with jobs in suburban companies like Sears, Motorola, Navistar, McDonald's and literally thousands of lesser-known businesses. Strong schools in Chicago are as much a key to foreign investment and economic development in the region as are strong schools in the suburbs. Whether it's the Chicago Theater in the Loop or Allstate Arena in Rosemont or any of scores of other events and locations throughout the region one could name, we share audiences, talents and venues for some of the greatest cultural activities in the world. And we are each dependent on the other's stewardship of the environment for everything from the parks we play in to the water we drink and the air we breathe.
So, we hope Mayor Emanuel will support and actively participate in the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus founded by his predecessor. We hope he'll talk to and listen to suburban residents about the progress of expansion at O'Hare International Airport. We hope he'll confer with education leaders from the suburbs as he builds a legislative vision for the city's educational needs.
We hope he'll consider the work of groups like Metropolitan 2020 and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning as he ponders Chicago's role in everything from shopping center design to the movement of freight.
Mayor Emanuel's inauguration address was heavy with words like change and challenge and difficulty, and no reasonable person would deny that the city -- like the suburbs nearby and the nation at large -- faces hard decisions. But another important word, opportunity, must not be overlooked. With it in mind, we urge Chicago's mayor to leave room at the planning table for suburban insights, energies and cooperation in efforts to reshape Chicago and strengthen the entire region.