Monroe: Hundreds Wait in Line to Meet New Mayor

Emanuel Meet and Greet Photo by Anncatherine Brady
An estimated 1,500 people waited in a line that wrapped around City Hall on Monday
for a chance to meet Mayor Emanuel. (Photo by AnnCatherine Brady) 

By Breeann Tuch and AnnCatherine Brady
The Red Line Project
: Monday, May 16, 2011

A line of people wound its way around City Hall on Monday afternoon for a chance to see Rahm Emanuel, Chicago's first new mayor  in 22 years. This comes as a huge shift for the city, and a new face in the office for a generation that has only seen one their entire life.

The mayor and his family hosted the open house for two hours, shaking hands with nearly 1,500 people, according to officials. The open house followed a weekend of inauguration activities and Emanuel's inauguration and speech earlier on Monday.

Braving cold winds and a long wait, many Chicagoans gathered there to wish him well on his up and coming term, others to get a quick picture, but some wanted to remind the new mayor of where his focus should be.

Two visitors, Maria Elena Sifuentes and Diane Limas, from the Albany Park Neighborhood Council, were both former employees of Emanuel during his time as a congressman.

The pair waited 45 minutes in line before they even got to the entrance of City Hall. To them, the wait was worth it, as long as they got to deliver their message.

“Grassroots organizations all across the city are really in touch with the community and the people. We know the issues. If he really wants to stay in touch with the people, then he need to stay in touch with community organizations all across the city.”

Photo by Anncatherine Brady
Maria Elena Sifuentes (left) and Diane Limas wait in line. (Photo by AnnCatherine Brady)

One City Hall worker said that the new mayor brought a different atmosphere to the building.

“Last week was sad, but now it’s exciting,” said the City Hall employee, referring to former Major Daley’s last week in office, “This is our young mayor now. So, there will be a lot of changes.”

For Pablo Everastico, changes in the police presence in Metra and ‘El’ stations, along with more awareness of safety in the city, should be top priorities.

“I don’t live in Chicago but I travel a lot in Chicago and I see like a lot of areas should be more controlled,” said Everastico, who's from the suburbs.

Pablo Everastico Photo by Anncatherine Brady

Pablo Everastico came in from the suburbs and stood in line on a cold, windy day
in hopes of meeting Chicago's new mayor. (Photo by AnnCatherine Brady) 

Everastico also spoke of the connection to Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, “Since I don’t live in Chicago I can’t vote, but I think that what happens in Chicago affects the whole suburbs.”

Preceding the meet-and-greet at City Hall, Emanuel gave his inauguration speech in Millennium Park, telling a crowd that included several dignitaries and politicians, “the decisions we make in the next two to three years will determine what Chicago will look like in the next 20 or 30 years.”

The new mayor inherits a city with harsh financial restraints, some because controversial decisions made by former Mayor Richard M. Daley, most notably privatizing parking meters.

Reports say Emanuel is expected to freeze spending besides worker paychecks and due bills, and has also vowed to shave $75 million off Daley’s budget. 

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