Ex-Chicago mayor to speak at Marquette conference

MARQUETTE – Former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley will be in Marquette this summer to give the keynote address at a conference focused on regional environmental preservation.

The speech by Daley, the longest-serving mayor in Chicago’s history, will highlight the annual conference of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, a non-profit coalition that works to advance protection and restoration efforts related to the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes.

Daley was mayor until 2011 and founded the GLSLCI, serving as chairman of the group for one year and sitting on the board of directors for eight. The board is composed of sitting mayors.

“It is extremely significant,” GLSLCI Executive Director David Ullrich said of Daley’s plan to attend. “Mayor Daley was the founder of the organization and it was his idea to bring cities together … to have a strong voice.

“He had the idea. He got us off the ground.”

The 2013 conference is the 10th annual GLSLCI gathering. The event – which has been held in previous years in such locations as Chicago, Grand Rapids, Toronto, Milwaukee and Niagara Falls – is the organization’s big event each year and draws hundreds of people.

The conference is divided into a daylong business portion that will involve meetings of the initiative’s board of directors and a day of meetings focusing largely on economic development within the framework of sustainability.

More than 100 municipalities in eight states and two Canadian provinces are represented in GLSLCI, and organizers estimate that mayors and city officials from 50 to 60 are typically present at the annual conference.

Ullrich said Daley was “widely respected around the world” and the former mayor often refers to the GLSLCI when speaking on intergovernmental cooperation.

The entire conference is open to the public, though registration – $375 for GLSLCI members and $425 – is required. Ullrich said organizers have discussed the possibility of making Daley’s speech a separate event, if local interest is high enough.

Daley, who served as mayor of Chicago for 22 years, currently serves as the executive chairman of Tur Partners, an investment and advisory firm in global business.

The conference is set for June 19-21 and Daley’s speech is scheduled for June 20.

The Superior Watershed Partnership is hosting the GLSLCI conference, partnering with the city of Marquette, the Marquette Downtown Development Authority, the city’s Arts and Culture Center and the Marquette County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.

Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.