State and local officials comment on the death of former Chicago mayor Jane Byrne. The city’s first and only female mayor died Friday morning at the age of 81.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel released the following statement about Byrne's passing:
“With the passing of Mayor Jane Byrne, the City of Chicago has lost a great trailblazer.
Mayor Byrne was a Chicago icon who lived a remarkable life of service to our city. From signing the first ordinance to get handguns off of our streets, to bringing more transparency to the City’s budget, to creating the Taste of Chicago, Mayor Byrne leaves a large and lasting legacy. And as the first woman to serve as Mayor, she will always have a special place in our history.
I was deeply honored that she attended my inauguration, and, in turn, it was my privilege to sign our City’s ordinance officially dedicating the plaza surrounding our iconic Water Tower in her honor.
The thoughts and prayers of the people of Chicago are with her daughter Kathy and her many friends at this difficult time.”
Governor-elect Bruce Rauner issued the following statement:
"I'm saddened to learn of the death of Mayor Byrne. She was a pioneer and will be missed by all. The City of Chicago owes her a huge debt of gratitude. My thoughts and prayers are with her daughter, Kathy, and her family."
Gov. Pat Quinn issued the following statement:
“Jane Byrne leaves a legacy of tireless service to Chicago that will never be forgotten. Her work on behalf of the city’s children and underserved communities has meant thousands of Chicago citizens are better off today because of Jane’s heartfelt dedication.
The city’s first and only female mayor, Jane Byrne was a barrier breaker and a role model for countless women who had stared too long through the glass ceiling. She brought transparency to the city budget process, was Chicago’s first mayor to march in the Gay Pride Parade and was the nation’s first big-city mayor to successfully enact a ban on handguns.
Renaming the Circle Interchange in honor of the former mayor has rightfully placed Jane Byrne among the city’s iconic leaders. Jane Byrne was a fearless trailblazer who has made our state a better place. She will be missed. Our thoughts are with her daughter Kathy, grandson William and their entire family today.”
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle issued the following statement:
"As the first and only woman elected Mayor of Chicago, Jane Byrne was truly a pioneer and an inspiration to all women in public service.
I’m a history teacher by profession, and I know that Jane will have a significant place in this history of our great City. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends during this difficult time."
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin issued the following statement:
“When Jane Byrne moved into Cabrini Green, she proved Chicago’s first woman mayor was unafraid to tackle the city’s toughest problems head on. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends.”
The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. issued the following statement:
“We supported Jane Byrne when she ran against Michael Bilandic. Her victory was the beginning of the end of machine politics as we knew it.
Opening up doors for women, minorities, and nonconventional politicians. Her role as a consumer advocate was remarkable. As a nonconventional politician she rode the snow to victory with an unusual degree of skill.
The role of Harold Washington and those who followed, minority senators, congresspersons; progressives and others were a part of the waves of change she produced.”