Before Richard J. Daley became Mayor of Chicago, he served the public in several other positions. During Adlai E. Stevenson II’s first two years as Illinois governor, from 1949 to 1950, Daley served as the budget director.
Daley left his position as state revenue director to fill a vacancy for the position of Cook County Clerk.
According to an oral history interview given by Ed Bedore [PDF], a former budget director for the city of Chicago, this prior experience helped prepare Daley manage the city’s budgets.
Mayor Daley knew more about the budget than any of us did in the budget office. The mayor was the former Director of Revenue for the State of Illinois. He was the Cook County Clerk who, at the time, did the county budget. So he was in charge of the county budget and the Department of Revenue. So when he became the mayor, he knew about the budget just as well as anybody. And he was also, I’ll word it very carefully, he was very frugal with the city money. He kept his salary at thirty-five thousand dollars, which allowed the department heads – every year we’d get a small increase. But because we were pushing thirty five thousand . . . as long as he never had his salary increased, we could never go higher than his. But that was the mayor. He always looked out for the taxpayers.
Ed Bedore, City Budget Director interview excerpt, May 18, 2009
For more information about Daley’s efforts as mayor to manage Chicago’s finances, see the Budget, Banking and Business portion of the Remembering Richard J. Daley online exhibit.