(JTA) – Rahm Emanuel said he will not seek a third term as mayor of Chicago.
Emanuel, the city’s first Jewish mayor, made the unexpected announcement on Tuesday. “As much as I love this job and will always love this city and its residents, I’ve decided not to seek re-election,” the 58-year-old Democrat said. “This has been the job of a lifetime, but it is not a job for a lifetime.” Chicago will hold elections for mayor in February. Prior to being elected mayor in 2011, Emanuel served as a congressman in Illinois and as President Barack Obama’s chief of staff. His announcement comes the same week as the murder trial of a white Chicago police officer, Jason Van Dyke, in the shooting of a 17-year-old African-American male, Laquan McDonald, is set to begin. Emanuel initially fought not to release police footage of the 2014 incident, leading activists and opponents to call for his resignation.
Obama praised Emanuel’s accomplishments as mayor in a statement released after his announcement. “With record job growth and record employment over his terms in office, Chicago is better and stronger for his leadership, and I was a better President for his wise counsel at a particularly perilous time for our country,” Obama said.
Emanuel, the son of an Israeli father and Jewish-American mother, is active in the Jewish community. He and his wife, Amy, are members of Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel, a Modern Orthodox congregation in Chicago.