Mayor Rahm Emanuel sits for an interview with reporter Fran Spielamn in his City Hall office Friday afternoon. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times
Updated: March 4, 2014 3:07PM
Rahm Emanuel returned to Chicago four years ago as a polarizing figure from his days as White House chief-of-staff and as architect of the 2006 Democratic takeover of the U.S. House before that.
Now, he’s a polarizing mayor who’s not about to change his steamroller style, no matter how many people he rubs the wrong way.
“It’s not that I’m polarizing [or]…not polarizing. Of course. I don’t want to be a shade of gray. I haven’t been my whole life. It would be inauthentic for me to be anything but who I am,” said Emanuel, 54, during an exclusive interview with Early & Often.
“People are tired of the blow-dried hair, which I don’t have much of lately, politicians who just say sweet words. We have challenges. We’re gonna confront `em...I don’t want to be phony. I don’t want to do what other people do. And if people don’t want the truth or …don’t even like my version of it, [they can support someone else.] … I don’t want to be a mayor [who] inherited major challenges and warmed the seat.”
Although his support among African-American voters has plummeted, Emanuel says County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, the challenger City Hall fears most, has privately assured him she has no intention of running for mayor.
Emanuel says he takes Preckwinkle at her word, even though she’s been the most outspoken critic of the mayor’s school closings, charter openings, school budget cuts and the seven-day teachers strike that Emanuel’s bullying missteps helped to instigate.